Danville police have received evidence that solves a 38-year-old murder case. Director of Public Safety Larry Thomason said police were notified recently that DNA examination of evidence recovered from the scene of the murder matches James R. Lyons, who died in 2003.
According to Thomason, 18 year old Virginia Sue Nipper was found March 26, 1980 assaulted and strangled to death.in her home at 404 Sager Street. Also in the home was her 15-month-old son who was unharmed. Over several weeks many people were investigated in the case, but nothing solid ever pointed to one suspect. Then in November 1980, Christina Pesek told police she had been attacked by James Lyons. Pesek was the sister-in-law to Virginia Sue Nipper, and she and the Nipper family were well acquainted with Lyons. Lyons was subsequently charged with unlawful restraint, burglary and battery. Lyons was subsequently sentenced to 30 months of probation on Oct. 23, 1981, on the unlawful restraint charge.
With similarities between the Pesek case and Nipper case investigators turned their attention to Lyons as a suspect in the murder case. But no matches were found in the evidence. As a “cold case” police re-submitted evidence to the Illinois State Police Crime Laboratory in 2015 for DNA processing. With the refinement of the DNA process the forensic scientist re-visited the evidence submitted. According to the results four pieces of evidence revealed DNA profiles consistent with James Lyons.
The Nipper family has been notified of the results and the Danville Police Division has closed the case as cleared.