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Evil Angel Eyes: Homicidal Stepmother Adriana Lytle

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Adriana Lytle wrote a poem titled, “You Told Me You Loved Me” in 2002. For some reason Adriana chose to post that poem in the weblog attached to her profile on MySpace.com on March 9, 2007.

The poem read:

You told me you loved me,
you told me a lie,
You sat there and laughed,
as you watched me cry.
Did the love we have,
was it really that bad?
Why didn’t you fight,
you had that right.
Just throw our love away,
what more is there to say?
I know it can’t be true,
are you really that much of a fool?
You told me you loved me,
you told me a lie.
You told me you cared,
now you wish I would die.
But as I sit here thinking about all the lies I bought,
thinking of the times we fought,
How was I to know that you would really go?

Why the 32-year-old Spokane (WA) stay-at-home mother of two chose to trot out this bit of doggerel on the 9th was a mystery. Earlier the same day, she’d blogged in a much happier vein:

Well I can’t believe it but my husband and I have been married a year on March 10,2007. I guess what they say is true. Time flies when you are having fun. Seems like we just got married. My husband couldn’t believe it’s been a year already. He asked to see the wedding certificate to be sure. LOL Everything has been going great. I look forward to the many years to come and wonder if they will go as fast. I hope not. I relish every moment I spend and have with him…

Adriana’s weblog entries, the poem of old heartbreak notwithstanding, gave no indication whatsoever that she and her husband Jonathan Lytle, age 28, would be accused child abusers and killers by March 11.

Jonathan Lytle brought his 4-year old daughter Summer to Deaconess Medical Center that Sunday. Summer wasn’t breathing, and she was covered with bruises. Court documents issued later would indicate that Summer Lytle also was covered with “human bite marks.”

It was determined that Summer may have drowned in a tub in which someone made her wash pee-stained clothing. However, with injuries over most of the child’s body, investigators were hedging on the cause of death pending a complete autopsy of the girl’s remains.

Spokane police Sgt. Joe Peterson, from the major crimes unit, was quoted by the Associated Press in an article published Monday evening: “It’s probably the worst case of abuse that any of us in hundreds of combined years in this unit have ever seen.”

Summer, Jon Lytle’s daughter by a previous relationship, was said to be developmentally disabled. Court documents referenced in the AP article indicated that Summer was made to wear a ‘shock collar,’ a device typically used to train dogs. This appeared to be the Lytles’ solution to disciplining their 4-year-old.

The court documents also said that Summer Lytle may have been beaten with spoons, and a belt.

Jonathan David Lytle II, the couple’s 8-month-old boy, was placed in foster care.

The first news article that named the Lytles contained the following interesting information:

Neither parent has a felony record, but spokeswoman Kathy Spears with the Washington Department of Social and Health Services said her agency had a record of contact with the family. However, the state agency closed the case in October. No further details were immediately available…

To some degree, then, the couple’s sadistic ideas about how to handle a “developmentally disabled” toddler may have been a known quantity.

The piece published in the Spokane Spokesman-Review on March 12 had further details about the night Summer died that painted an even more revolting portrait of Adriana and Jonathan Lytle.

Adriana had tried to revive Summer before she was taken to the hospital, and as she did so, Jon Lytle reportedly left the room to have a cigarette.

Worse yet, the Spokesman-Review article made it clear that if Summer’s biological father was callous and selfish, her stepmother seemed to hate the child with a psychopathic intensity. Quoting:

“Adriana said she is miserable about Summer living with them,” according to court records. “Adriana described Summer as defiant, a ‘handful’ and destructive and she wished Summer had never come to live with them.”

Adriana Lytle told Ferguson that the girl had urinated on towels and clothes so she placed the girl in the bathtub to clean those items. Lytle later saw Summer under water with only her nose sticking out, blowing water into the air.

The woman left the girl and returned later to find her covered with a wet T-shirt over her face. “This is the first time Adriana noticed something wrong with summer,” according to court records.

Even though the girl had nothing to eat since Friday, the parents told detectives that they made the girl wash items from about 10:30 a.m. up until 9 p.m. Saturday, when Adriana Lytle told detectives that she pushed Summer with her foot “causing Summer to fall into the urine filled water,” records state…

Here is part of what Adriana Lytle wrote in the “About Me” section of her MySpace profile:

There is more to me than I think anyone ever wants to know. I am a happily married (newlywed as of March 10,2006)woman. I am also a new mom to my husbands 4 year old daughter Summer. We also had a son on July 6th,2006. We gave Summer a baby brother on her 4th birthday. Our son is Jonathan David Lytle, II. We call him Jonny for short. We are currently saving up to move out of state. If you would like to talk to me on messenger I am angeleyes0921@yahoo.com

Adriana’s gallery of photos associated with her MySpace profile showed images of her, her husband — a slim, homely red-haired man with a mild expression — one blurred Christmas photo of the family, another of Jon with Jonathan II and Summer, and several more images of the baby. Summer was thin, with dark red hair like her father. Little Jonathan appeared to be a bright-eyed, happy baby — at least in photos.

If Adriana Lytle hated her stepchild, it wasn’t apparent shortly after she married Summer’s father. Adriana posted a blog entry on March 15, 2006, and in it she wrote:

I am now a married woman. It took me 31 years but I finally found the man of my dreams.

His name is Jon. He is younger then me of course. LOL. But only by 4 years. We are expecting a son on July 3rd,2006. We got married March 10,2006. So for those of you trying to do the math. I was 6 months pregnant on our wedding day! When we get the film developed and put on disc, I will have pics to put on here. Also when we got married I became a step-mom to his 3 year old daughter Summer. She has the same red hair as her daddy. And she is the sweetest little girl (…) This is the first and only marriage for both of us as neither one of us believe in divorce. I am so glad I never settled for any of the losers I was with. I ended up finding the perfect man. He completes me. Both of our families are really happy for us too. Which helps in a way…

As happy as Adriana seemed to be with Jon, she still maintained a profile at a dating site that she’d created in early 2005. There wasn’t much there, but her last login was on January 5, 2007, and she’d updated the site in some manner in October, 2006. There were 2 photos and the usual skeletal run-down of traits and station in life: She was looking for “friendship”; Adriana was an “active smoker”; and her job was “stay at home mom/housewife.”

So, between (allegedly) beating and biting her 4-year-old stepdaughter, Adriana Lytle wanted to be sure she kept one little line in the vast online sea, if only for new friends.

Back in her MySpace blog, Adriana had posted in January of last year one of the ubiquitous surveys seen on so many MySpace profiles (hell, I even have one). Her answers revealed a few new details about the woman who now sits in a Spokane jail cell, her bond (and her husband’s) set at a half-million dollars.

The 5’7″ green-eyed, auburn-haired California native was already thinking about the child she was carrying. Her goal for 2006 was simply to “Have a healthy baby.” The first thing Adriana thought about on waking up in the morning was her then-fiance, Jon. Though Adriana wanted a healthy baby, she still smoked. Weirdly, to the question asking the survey user if they swore, Adriana gave an answer that made it seem like she was more concerned about using foul language in a home with an infant than she was about smoking: “Yes- Need to work on that before baby is born!”

Adriana also liked to sing — her answer to a question about that was “Yes- I karaoke a lot.” And to the question asking survey takers if they’d “Ever shoplifted,” Adriana Lytle gave a frank response: “Yep- but busted at Payless Drugs on Grand Ave.”

There were only two questions to which Adriana gave no answers: “Your fears,” and “Your weakness.”

Psychos typically fear nothing, and do not perceive any of their failings as weaknesses. Consider that statement a non-sequitur in the context of this story if you want. But I don’t feel as though such an observation comes from nowhere.

I have, of late, been trying to take a different tack from the usual steadfast first-person blogger’s voice. For some crime stories, the neutral reporter’s voice is simply more appropriate.

But I responded to this story as the red-haired father of a difficult (but not disabled), complicated, gifted, zany, loving red-haired daughter. Usually, I tend to avoid crime stories where children are victims — because as a dad, I just find most of them a little too hard to handle. But I felt such outrage when I read about this poor, 4-year-old child and the stepmother who casually pushed her with a foot into urine-filled water. Looking at Adriana Lytle’s web posts only honed the edge of that outrage. Her narcissism and banality underscored the abuse alluded to in the news articles, in the court papers. Adriana’s lip-service in her MySpace profile towards her stepchild juxtaposed with what appeared to be adoration of her biological child nauseated me as I thought about how she might have doted on the little boy even as she was beating Summer with spoons and belts.

I will continue to try to move into a more neutral narrator’s voice in stories I blog about here, but there was no way I could do that in writing about Summer Lytle. She deserved so much better than a pair of chain-smoking mouth breathers who treated her like trash. To hell with the “neutral” voice when it comes to a story like this. And let’s hope hell is all Adriana and Jonathan Lytle know from hereon out.

Kudos and a great big thanks to the tipster (who requested anonymity) who sent me notice of the story and a link to Adriana Lytle’s personal profile.

Lost in Lima Ohio also weighed in on this horrific story: “‘Beyond Abuse.'”