Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Richard and Nancy Lyon


Nancy's brother, Bill Dillard Jr., had for years struggled with alcohol and drug abuse, often turning to his father for financial help after losing a job or needing legal help.

In the spring of 1989, Bill Sr. told his namesake that he would no longer support him unless he agreed to enter drug treatment. He agreed.

One of the treatment techniques involved family counseling, so the Dillard clan gathered over Memorial Day 1989 at Sierra Tucson, a pricey detox center in Arizona. (Today, live-in clients pay nearly $25,000 for a 26-day stay.)

As she arrived in Tucson, Nancy Lyon made a painful decision.

She felt that her brother's problems as an adult were rooted in deviant sexual events from their puberty that had been swept under the rug by their parents.

Nancy and Bill Jr. had an incestuous relationship when they were young. They were caught in a sex act by their mother when Bill was 13 and Nancy 11. The physical relationship apparently had been going on for years, with Bill pressing his sister into various sexual deeds.

Mrs. Dillard was mortified, and the parents promptly packed Bill Jr. away to a boarding school in New Hampshire.

Nancy spent her formative years wracked with guilt. Her brother was reduced to an adjunct member of the family, visiting only on major holidays. The blame she felt for Bill Jr.'s banishment became a dominant theme in her life.

She linked her own inhibitions in bed to the illicit origins of her sexual awakening: Sex was simply wrong.

Nancy decided the detox counseling presented an opportunity to air the lingering trauma of the childhood episodes — for the sake of Bill Jr., herself and the entire family.

She revealed the incestuous relationship to her husband during a private counseling session for the couple at Sierra Tucson, then broached the issue with her entire family later that weekend, according to an account by writer A.W. Gray in his book Poisoned Dreams.

Her father quickly cut off any discussion.

He dismissed the events as normal childhood sexual curiosity. The siblings were simply "playing doctor," he insisted.

Nancy knew the long incestuous relationship was far darker and more deviant than her father's portrayal. She made several attempts to discuss the issue, but Bill Sr. cut her off, and the subject was dropped.


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