Friday, April 20, 2018
Public safety

Detectives want to interview teen who left with sex offender

TAMPA — Two Hillsborough County sheriff's detectives left Friday for Louisiana to try to interview Ashley Lyon, the Valrico teenager who remains hospitalized there in the wake of her weeklong disappearance with a sex offender.

And local authorities are adding a criminal charge against the man accused of trying to kill her.

Steven P. Myers, 41, of near Plant City, now faces a charge of using an electronic device to seduce or solicit a minor for sex. That is in addition to local charges of interference with child custody and unlawful sexual activity with a minor, and a Louisiana charge of attempted murder, all related to Ashley's disappearance.

The detectives traveled to Louisiana on Friday, where the 16-year-old is in serious condition, the Sheriff's Office said. The detectives planned to talk with her doctors to determine when and for how long they could speak with her.

Text messages between Ashley and Myers indicated some sort of relationship that led to the Hillsborough charges, but detectives want to talk with her to fill in details of the week she was missing, including how she was stabbed, the Sheriff's Office said.

It remained unclear when Myers might return to Florida. He was being held in jail in Lafayette Parish, La., where he and Ashley were found on June 19.

The teen went missing June 11. She has bipolar disorder and disappeared without taking her medication with her, her family said. Her parents thought she left willingly with Myers, with whom they later discovered she had exchanged hundreds of text messages.

Myers has twice been convicted of child molestation in Georgia and was required to register his address with local authorities.

The two were spotted the night of June 18 at a truck stop off Interstate 10 near Baton Rouge, La. A clerk, who recognized them from media coverage, notified a sheriff's deputy as the girl and Myers got into a stolen flatbed pickup truck.

Myers drove away, leading authorities on a 40-mile chase, police said. It ended in Lafayette when Myers stopped after riding on the sparking rims of four blown tires, climbed on the truck hood and yelled for officers to kill him as he stabbed himself, according to police.

He was attacked by a police dog and shocked with a Taser before being arrested. He was briefly hospitalized before being taken to jail.

Ashley was found inside the disabled truck with eight stab wounds to her chest and back, police said.

Most recently, her family posted an update to a Facebook page created for her, saying she had undergone surgery related to a blood clot and was breathing through a ventilator.

Family members announced Wednesday that they were discontinuing posts to the page to protect Ashley's privacy.

Times staff writer Keeley Sheehan contributed to this report.

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