Former Local 4 writer remembers morning she unknowingly covered her brother's murder in Detroit

Hugh Lyons' homicide case still unsolved 23 years later

DETROIT – A former writer at Local 4 News spoke with the Defenders about the morning she unknowingly covered her brother's murder in Detroit.

"It was 7 o'clock," Delores Lyons said. "Liz had asked me, she said, 'Delores, you've got to write this for the 7:25,' and it was, like, 7:15. I'm trying to get the information, but we didn't have it."

Lyons was a Local 4 News writer trying to learn more about a murder that came across a scanner. All she knew was a man had been killed on Detroit's east side, but she had no idea that man was her brother.

Now, 23 years later, the Local 4 Defenders are taking a closer look at murder of Hugh Lyons through the eyes of his sister, as she continues to search for answers.

"As I think about him walking this stretch -- these were his last steps," Lyons said.

Hugh Lyons was 50 years old when he was killed.

"The sun rising in the east was his morning walk, his meditation time," Lyons said.

Her brother walked a stretch of Mack Avenue every morning to get to his job as a security guard.

"About 3 or 4 miles he would walk to work," Lyons said. "We would tall him, 'Hugh, change your route because people watch you.' He says, 'I'm not bothering anybody.'"

Lyons said she remembers the morning of Sept. 27, 1996.

"I did some writing, some producing," Lyons said. "I worked with Emery King and a few other people."

That day, she was writing for the morning show when the scanner went off.

"We had just heard it come over the desk that a man had been killed at a bus stop," Lyons said. "So I'm trying to find where, and they're getting ready to send out a news crew. So finally, I wrote it with as much information as we had."

Lyons said she went on with her day. The man killed on Mack Avenue didn't cross her mind until she got a call from her other brother later that night.

"He said, 'I have something to tell you,'" Lyons said. "He said, 'Somebody killed our brother.'"

Lyons went to identify the body the next day.

"When we went to identify the body, (I said), 'What do you want us to look at? There's no head,'" Lyons said. "Literally no head. There was a corner of a face. So he was shot at close range."

Lyons said her brother wasn't robbed. He was shot to death for no reason, she said. His body fell to the ground in a field right next to a bus stop.

"All he had in his backpack was a Bible," Lyons said. "He had a bottle of ginger ale and some gloves. He had $50 in his pocket, so the only thing I can think of is that, like I said, Hugh was very religious. He was very fundamental, so anything he felt disapproving of, he could give you a look."

She's afraid her brother gave the wrong person the wrong look.

Lyons said she started knocking on doors after the murder, asking questions. She said she found one woman who lived on the street and was willing to talk.

"She said all she remembered (was) she heard a gunshot," Lyons said. "She looked out the window and she saw three guys running. She said she heard two more faint shots and said she doesn't know, so she was afraid to send her kids out after that."

"So you did your own detective work as much as you could?" Local 4 Defender Karen Drew asked.

"Yeah, and (police) told us, 'Don't go over there,'" Lyons said. "They told us, 'Don't knock on doors. Don't asked questions.'"

"Why?" Karen asked.

"I don't know," Lyons said.

"So you stopped?" Karen asked.

"They said they would do it, but 23 years later, here we are," Lyons said.

There used to be homes along the stretch of Mack Avenue, but now those homes are gone, along with possible eyewitnesses and, potentially, the answers to her questions.

"It's a bigger issue for me now," Lyons said. "I look at the level of violence. We're killing each other, but what's causing that?"

After her brother's death, Lyons left the news business and went into social work, hoping to help others. Now she hopes someone will help her with the mystery that has haunted her for 23 years.

Local 4 spoke with Detroit police about the case, and they said a shell casing was recovered from the scene, along with bullet fragments. The shell casing was turned over to the crime lab for testing, but 23 years later, the results are unknown.

The Cold Case Squad is looking to review all the evidence to see if anything can be retested, as DNA testing has improved since the murder.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Detroit police at 313-596-2200 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP. Callers can remain anonymous.

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