Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Richard and Nancy Lyon

Marriage & Betrayal

Kismet placed Richard Lyon and Nancy Dillard in the same classroom.

They began dating in the spring semester of their first year at Harvard, and the relationship blossomed.

Dillard, a full four years older than Lyon, gave family and friends the impression that she found a comfort with Richard that she had never felt before. She believed she had at last met her lifetime match.

Nancy was almost 30 by the time they graduated in 1981. Wedding planning began soon after commencement, and Nancy became Mrs. Richard Lyon in February 1982.

Although Nancy enjoyed the East Coast, Richard made the well-reasoned suggestion that the couple should reside in Dallas, the Dillard family's power base.

As Richard had hoped, Bill Dillard made phone calls to pals in Dallas that landed jobs for both his daughter and her new husband.

With her father's help, Nancy went to work at Trammell Crow Co., the commercial real estate firm founded by Trammell Crow, a Texas-sized character sometimes called the Lone Star State's Donald Trump.

Trammell Crow
Trammell Crow

In the early '80s, Trammell Crow was beginning aggressive business expansion, building everything from skyscrapers to shopping malls to subdivisions. (Today, the firm manages or leases 500 million square feet of commercial real estate in the United States. It has offices in 25 states, as well as England, Toronto and Singapore.)

Nancy was hired as an assistant project supervisor, and she soon became a favorite of the founder and his son, Michael.

She was given broad oversight of the company's development of Westchester, an upscale housing subdivision near Grand Prairie, off Interstate 20 midway between Dallas and Fort Worth.

Even motherhood did not stop her career momentum. Daughter Allison was born in November 1986, during crucial months in the Westchester development, and Nancy hired a nanny and hurried back to work weeks after the birth. Again she barely missed a business beat when her second child, Anna, was born two years later.

Nancy Lyon, younger
Nancy Lyon, younger

While Nancy prospered, Richard took a career path that wasn't so straight and narrow.

Based on his father-in-law's influence, he was taken on as a project manager at Rosewood Corp., a real estate development firm owned by Caroline Hunt Schoellkopf, an heir to Texas oilman H.L. Hunt's $6 billion fortune.

Richard washed out in that job, then went on to work for Ken Hughes, another Dallas developer friend of Bill Dillard.

Hughes assigned Richard to work on the development of a shopping center project in Houston. Through that project, he became acquainted with another construction manager, a single, blue-eyed blonde with a stripper's name — and figure: Tami Lyn Gaisford.

Through frequent business trips, Lyon and Gaisford often found themselves alone together at a Houston hotel. What began as an evening of drunken passion in September 1989 developed into a full-blown love affair.


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