Lester D. Shaffer, 37, of North Midler Ave, was arrested Feb. 22 by DeWitt Police for the stabbing death of 54-year-old Lyle “Budda” Lyons, who lived in Midler Meadows Trailer Park in the Town of Dewitt. (submitted photo)
Dewitt Police have arrested a Midler Avenue couple for the December murder and robbery of their neighbor.
Lester D. Shaffer, 37, of North Midler Ave, was arrested Feb. 22 by DeWitt Police for the stabbing death of 54-year-old Lyle “Budda” Lyons, who lived in Midler Meadows Trailer Park in the Town of Dewitt. Shaffer was charged with murder in the first degree, two counts of murder in the second degree, robbery in the first degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree and attempted criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree following a grand jury indictment.
On Jan. 25, investigators arrested Shaffer’s girlfriend, Ashley N. Rodriguez, who also lives in the trailer park, for attempting to conceal the crime. Rodriguez was charged with hindering prosecution in the first degree, hindering prosecution in the second degree, tampering with physical evidence, criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fourth degree and criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree.
Chief of Police John Anton reported that the Dewitt Police responded to the 407 N Midler Ave, Lot M6 of the trailer park for a death investigation on Dec. 14. It was ruled a homicide once it was discovered that the victim, Lyons, had suffered multiple stab wounds.
It was learned during the initial investigation that Lyons’ body was discovered by his neighbor after his family failed to hear from him for nearly two days and had reached out via social media with their concern for his wellbeing. Shortly after the discovery of Lyons, members of the Criminal Investigation Division began interviewing Lyons family members as Evidence Technicians gathered evidence at the scene in attempts to develop leads.
Over the following days, Dewitt Police Investigators began analyzing phone records, searching for evidence and interviewing multiple associates of the victim while attempting to identify a suspect. It was during this time that investigators learned of two subjects attempting to sell drugs around the timeframe of Lyons death and that these items were suspected to have been stolen from the victim’s home. Call records indicated that one of these subjects had attempted to contact the victim in the time period leading up to his murder.
On Dec. 19, the two suspects were brought to the police department for questioning. During his interview, Shaffer changed his story multiple times in regards to going to the victim’s home during this time period and admitted to giving drugs to the other subject in question, his girlfriend, Ashley Rodriguez, police said. Rodriguez admitted in her interview to receiving drugs from Shaffer, and indicated that Shaffer told her they came from a robbery, police said.
Shaffer was arrested on the same day for criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fourth degree. Members of the DeWitt Police Department then executed a search warrant on Shaffer’s Midler Avenue home, where they recovered a container matching the description of one believed to have missing from the victim’s home. This container was later found to contain the victim’s DNA by the Onondaga County Forensic Lab.
Investigators continued to interview potential witnesses and follow-up on information to gather more evidence. Investigators recovered evidence of the sale and attempted sale of drugs suspected of being stolen from the victim’s home by Shaffer and Rodriguez, and identified several individuals approached by them to buy these drugs, according to police.
The DeWitt Police Department said in a statement it would like to send their condolences to the children of Lyle “Budda” Lyons and thank them for their involvement in both his life and the investigation; their help was instrumental to the resolution of this case.
The investigation is still considered ongoing at this time. Anyone with further information should contact the DeWitt Police tips line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.