Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Richard and Nancy Lyon

Wine, Soda, Nightcap

Nancy wrote her farewell edict to Richard on Sept. 12, 1990, after about nine months of living apart. Richard quickly filed for divorce, although they maintained regular contact.

In mid-September, she found on her porch an anonymous gift bag addressed to "One Great Lady." Inside were a bottle of white wine and a container of what appeared to be vitamin capsules.

Pill box & blood sample
Pill box & blood sample

Nancy drank a glass of the wine that night and became nauseous. The next morning she phoned her sister, Susan, and divorce lawyer Mary Henrich to report the odd incident.

That same month, she and Richard went to see the film Pretty Woman. During the showing, Richard went to the snack bar to fetch a soda for his wife. She took a sip and choked at its wretched taste. Richard got angry and told her to finish the drink. She would later say she saw white powder floating on top.

On another evening Richard mixed Nancy a nightcap cocktail. It had the same effect as the movie theater soda.

Over time, Nancy linked the wine, soda and nightcap incidents. She began to suspect that the man who swore to love her until death was attempting to hasten that day. She shared her suspicions with her family and lawyer.

It is not clear why she, her kin or her lawyer did not seek law enforcement intervention.

The marriage then took one final bizarre turn.

In the fall of 1990, as the couple's divorce petition wended its way through the Texas court system, Richard stopped seeing Tami Lyn Gaisford and began courting Nancy again.

Despite everything that had happened between them, Nancy must have seen a promise of reconciliation.

She eventually allowed him to move back home — in November, by his account, and after Christmas, by her family's account. She also agreed to allow withdrawal of the divorce petition.

During that same time period, Nancy was frequently debilitated by an undiagnosed and suspicious illness. The symptoms included nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

On Dec. 26, the Lyon family traveled to Connecticut for a holiday season visit to Richard's family. They returned on Jan. 2.

Six days later, Richard Lyon delivered his wife to the Dallas hospital.

She lingered on life support for nearly a week. On Jan. 14, 1991, her family made the decision to disconnect the contraption that kept her — technically — alive.


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