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Rhonda Maye WISTO





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Drug Ring - Torture - Wisto ordered the murder, in part, because she believed the teen was disrespectful
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: September 26, 2010
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: 1963
Victim profile: Dystiny Myers, 15
Method of murder: Mechanical asphyxiation and blunt-force trauma
Location: Nipomo, San Luis Obispo County, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole on May 8, 2013
photo gallery 1 photo gallery 2

Mother, son convicted of murder get life sentence

Wisto, York have no chance at parole for killing teen

By April Charlton -

May 10, 2013

A mother and son convicted earlier this year of murdering a Santa Maria teen will die in prison for their roles in the brutal crime.

Rhonda Wisto and her son, Frank Jacob York, were sentenced Wednesday to life without the possibility of parole for the September 2010 slaying of Dystiny Myers.

After the pair’s March trial, jurors found the Nipomo residents guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, torture, kidnapping and aiding-and-abetting.

Prosecutors believe Myers, 15, died sometime between Sept. 25 and 26, 2010, after she was attacked by four men, including York, at Wisto’s home, where she was beaten, hogtied and stuffed into a duffel bag.

Firefighters discovered the teen’s burned body off Parkhill Road, where the men dumped Myers’ body and lit it on fire. Wisto ordered the murder, in part, because she believed the teen was disrespectful.

Myers died from mechanical asphyxiation and blunt-force trauma. She also had toxic levels of methamphetamine in her system, which contributed to her death, according to an autopsy report.

Kathy Clark, Myers’ grandmother, told Wisto and York, who remained stoic during the sentencing hearing, that she forgave them for cutting her granddaughter’s life short, although she added they would never know the extent of her family’s pain.

“The last 33 months have been the longest days of my life,” Clark said, adding her granddaughter was full of life and love. “I’ll never get to see my grandchildren. I’ll never get to see my granddaughter get married or graduate from high school.”

If Myers hadn’t been murdered, she may have been on track to graduate from high school next month.

“Today is a new beginning for our family,” Clark added, fighting back tears. “It’s a new beginning for Dystiny.”

Three other defendants in the case — Santa Maria resident Ty Michael Hill, Cody Lane Miller of Fresno and Jason Adam Greenwell of Nipomo — avoided trials by agreeing to plead guilty to the teen’s murder.

Hill and Miller were both sentenced to life without parole, while Greenwell took a plea bargain in exchange for his testimony during the trial. He will be sentenced later this summer to 15 years to life with the possibility of parole.

Aileen Myers-Lucas, Dystiny’s mother, told Wisto and her son that she didn’t forgive them for killing her daughter and hoped they rotted in their prison cells.

The grieving mother also told Wisto, who wouldn’t look in the family’s direction, her daughter was a somebody, and she’s missed by everyone who knew the vibrant teen. Myers loved small children and enjoyed singing and dancing, her mother added.

During the trial, Wisto’s former cellmate at County Jail told jurors the woman had no remorse for Myers’ death because she was a nobody that nobody cared about.

Wisto didn’t speak during the hearing, which Clark said the family expected, however, York’s attorney, Gerald Carrasco, read a letter his client wrote to Myers’ family.

“I know my words carry no weight,” Carrasco read from York’s letter. “I am sorry for the loss and heartache that has happened in your everyday lives. There’s an angel looking over you now.”

Outside the courtroom, Clark said she didn’t believe York’s apology was sincere and that she’s troubled by Wisto’s role in Myers’ murder.

“That lady took four young men and got them to do something that they paid a tragic price for,” Clark said. “She was very, very selfish. That’s what bothers me the most.”

Wisto and York have 60 days to appeal the court’s ruling, however, a conviction of kidnapping during the commission of a murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.


Mother, son found guilty in Dystiny Myers murder

By Patrick S. Pemberton -

March 22, 2013

A mother and son will spend the rest of their lives in prison after a jury found them guilty Friday of murdering 15-year-old Dystiny Myers.

The jury’s decision to convict Rhonda Maye Wisto, 49, and her 22-year-old son, Frank Jacob York, puts an end to a 2½-year legal battle that spawned thousands of court documents and cost San Luis Obispo County more than $1 million. For the victim’s survivors, it closed another chapter of a nightmare that began Sept. 26, 2010.

“I remember the day like yesterday when I was told (of Myers’ death),” Kathy Clark, the victim’s grandmother, said afterward. “I look at today as justice being served.”

The defendants will receive mandatory sentences of life without parole when they are formally sentenced May 8.

After roughly two weeks of testimony, the jury announced it had reached a verdict roughly 90 minutes after it began deliberating. Before a court clerk read the verdicts, three jurors glanced at Myers’ family, who sat in the front row. One female juror nodded her head toward Aileen Myers, the victim’s mother.

Myers’ mother, grandmother and aunts sat in the front row of the audience, with arms linked, as the verdicts were read. When it was announced that the defendants were guilty of all counts — first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, plus enhancements for kidnapping and torture — Aileen Myers trembled and cried. Wisto also cried, more when her convictions were announced than when her son’s were read. York closed his eyes before and after his verdicts were announced.

Afterward, jurors declined to comment, one saying the stress from the trial had been enough.

Three other defendants in the case — Ty Michael Hill of Santa Maria, Cody Lane Miller of Fresno and Jason Adam Greenwell of Nipomo — previously agreed to enter guilty pleas, avoiding trials.

While both physical and eyewitness testimony implicated York, the evidence wasn’t as abundant for Wisto, who ordered the murder, according to the prosecution. For that reason, when the verdicts were read, the family reacted more strongly to news of Wisto’s conviction.

“We honestly thought from the beginning that it wasn’t going to happen with her,” Clark said.

Wisto’s mother, who attended much of the trial, declined to comment afterward.

According to court testimony, Myers was a runaway who showed up at Wisto’s home with Hill. Covello said they don’t know for sure how Myers met Hill. But she wound up staying with Wisto, who operated a methamphetamine ring out of her home.

According to trial testimony, Wisto ordered the attack because Myers had been disrespectful to her. While York was reluctant to participate in the attack, his mother goaded him into it, Covello said.

“Every piece of evidence we had … indicated that she had control of him,” Covello said. “In my opening statement I said it: She definitely took her son down this road. She destroyed his life as well as Dystiny’s.”

After Myers was beaten and bound, the male defendants transported her body to rural Santa Margarita. Her body was then dumped and set on fire.

As they were dumping her body, Hill and York turned on Miller, hitting him with shovels.

Briefly knocked down, Miller managed to flee. Fearing for his life, he later told law enforcement what had happened.

If Miller had been murdered, as Hill planned, finding the culprits would have been difficult, Covello said.

“The information he provided to the first responders, that set this entire investigation in action, is part of what led the Sheriff’s Department to get them so quickly,” Covello said.

Hill, Wisto, York and Greenwell were arrested later in the day. Miller was arrested the day after at a hospital, where he had been taken for his injuries.

While the trial featured difficult testimony about Myers’ injuries, it also exposed some inner workings of the local meth trade. Miller’s attorney, Gael Mueller, said her client never would have participated were it not for the drugs. York’s attorney, Gerald Carrasco, also argued that it was a factor in the case.

“It certainly fueled this one,” Covello said. “On the other hand, there are a lot of people who use methamphetamine who don’t commit this sort of crime.”


Prosecutor: Defendant in Myers' case sexually molested the teen

New allegation made in closing arguments in sensational case

By Patrick S. Pemberton -

March 21, 2013

Before participating in the murder of Dystiny Myers, Frank Jacob York had his way with her, a prosecutor argued Thursday, which is partly why his mother had the 15-year-old girl murdered.

“Jacob York is not just a murderer,” argued Assistant District Attorney Tim Covello. “Rhonda Wisto has to protect him because he’s also a child molester.”

As attorneys offered closing arguments in the murder trial of York and his mother, Covello offered a theory that York had been sexually involved with Myers, a runaway who had been staying at Wisto’s Nipomo home.

If Myers had left — as was her plan — the teen would have told about sleeping with York, then 19, and she would have told about the drug activity at the home, Covello said, bringing trouble to York and Wisto. “And the whole thing comes crumbling down. It comes down on his head, and it comes down on her head.”

After Covello’s allegation, York attorney Gerald Carrasco asked for a mistrial, saying it was “highly prejudicial.”

“There has not been any evidence to suggest that my client is a child molester,” he said in the court after Superior Court Judge Barry LaBarbera excused the jury for a break.

In response, Covello noted that York had written a fellow county jail inmate a note that said Myers was being prostituted. And it was revealed in testimony that York and Myers slept in the same bed.

After LaBarbera denied the mistrial request, Covello furthered his argument: “She was kept. She was used. She was tortured. She was murdered. She was disposed of.”

Covello has also argued that Myers had shown disrespect to Wisto, another motive for the crime. After she was allegedly beaten and bound, Myers’ burned body was found in rural Santa Margarita on Sept. 26, 2010.

Ty Michael Hill of Santa Maria and Cody Lane Miller of Fresno have also pled guilty to murdering Myers.

Before the York and Wisto trial was given to the jury Thursday, the rest of Covello’s closing argument weighed heavily on the testimony of Jason Adam Greenwell, a Nipomo man who has agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder in the case.

Greenwell said Wisto and Hill planned the murder, and York helped carry it out.

Greenwell, who allegedly held Myers’ legs while York hit her with a bat, was the least culpable of the attackers, Covello said. Feeling remorse, he began cooperating with investigators the day after the crime.

Covello said Greenwell’s version of the events – offered to investigators well before a plea deal was made – was repeatedly backed by the “mountains of evidence” presented by other witnesses.

Wisto’s attorney, Michael Cummins, said Greenwell’s testimony was crucial to the prosecution.

“If you believe Jason Greenwell told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, then you should convict my client,” Cummins told the jury.

But, he said, Greenwell is a “serial liar,” motivated to get a better deal that would allow him a chance to get parole some day.

There was no DNA or fingerprint evidence to implicate his client, he said.

But Wisto’s former cellmate, Tabatha Brown, testified that Wisto admitted to being involved in Myers’ death. Brown’s statements to police were offered after she was sentenced in a separate case.

With York’s DNA and fingerprints on the bat that was allegedly used in the attack, Carrasco conceded that his client was involved.

“But the real issue here is, if he’s guilty of murder, then in what capacity?” he said.

Intoxication, he said, is a defense to some elements of the crimes, particularly the intent, deliberation and premeditation needed for a first-degree murder conviction.

“This may be one where you say, ‘I don’t really like the law,’” he said, adding. “We are a nation of laws … even for him.”

Greenwell testified that the group had smoked methamphetamine the week leading up to the murder.

But Covello said getting high didn’t prevent the group from plotting the murder – which they did by writing and gathering a list of things needed to dispose of a body.

“It’s a goal-directed activity,” he said. “Every single step they made.”


Testimony Recalls Santa Maria Teen’s Last Words

Jason Adam Greenwell, who cut a deal with prosecutors, recounts Dystiny Myers slaying

By Patrick S. Pemberton, San Luis Obispo County Tribune

March 19, 2013

As four men allegedly hog-tied and brutally beat 15-year-old Dystiny Myers of Santa Maria, she gave her attackers a heartbreaking message, according to one of her alleged killers:

“She said to tell her mom she loved her,” Jason Adam Greenwell testified Monday.

As Greenwell told a San Luis Obispo Superior Court jury what might have been Myers’ final words, the victim’s mother — who had been sitting in the packed audience — quickly rushed out of the courtroom, crying.

The emotional moment came as Greenwell — one of the five accused of murdering Myers — testified against Frank Jacob York and his mother, Rhonda Maye Wisto, both of Nipomo.

Greenwell’s testimony — agreed to in exchange for a second-degree murder conviction and a 15-years-to-life sentence — became more important to the prosecution after co-defendant Cody Lane Miller of Fresno reneged on his plea deal moments earlier.

Miller, who had agreed to testify in exchange for a sentence of 39 years and four months to life in prison, briefly took the stand outside the jury’s presence and announced that he planned to plead the Fifth Amendment, exercising his right not to incriminate himself. As a result, the deal was made void, and a date for a separate trial will be set for his case.

Neither Miller nor his attorney, Gael Mueller, offered a reason for his decision. During the trial, however, several witnesses have been reluctant to testify, fearing retaliation by people close to Wisto and York. Prosecutors have said the defendants have ties to white supremacist gangs.

Without Miller, Greenwell becomes the prosecution’s lone eyewitness implicating Wisto as the one who planned the Sept. 26, 2010, attack and her son as a participant.

Another defendant, Ty Hill of Santa Maria, is not expected to testify after receiving a life prison term without the possibility of parole.

The burned body of Myers was found by firefighters responding to a call of a blaze near Santa Margarita.

While Greenwell said Wisto helped Hill plan the murder, Wisto’s attorney, Michael Cummins, noted inconsistencies in Greenwell’s various statements to police, saying Greenwell initially didn’t implicate Wisto.

Cummins suggested Greenwell changed his story in order to strike a deal with the prosecution. Greenwell, also of Nipomo, said he initially wanted to protect Wisto because he’d stayed at her home.

“It came to the point where I started telling the truth,” Greenwell said.

Prior to the murder, Greenwell said, he overheard Wisto and Hill plan the crime.

“I heard Ty ask Rhonda to get something that burns real hot, real fast,” he said.

Greenwell and other witnesses have said that Wisto was angry at Myers for disrespecting her.

Hill made a list of things needed to dispose of a body, Greenwell said, and Wisto began gathering the items on the list.

As the male defendants were talking near Wisto’s garage in Nipomo, Greenwell said, the following occurred:

Myers exited the house and walked toward them with a bag of clothes.

“I just wanted to say goodbye,” she said. “I’m leaving.”

After the teenage runaway returned to the house, the men followed. Myers went into York’s bedroom — where she’d been staying — and Hill put the plan in motion.

“Ty told everybody to get dark clothes on and to put on rubber gloves,” Greenwell said.

Greenwell went into Wisto’s room to get a dark shirt and encountered Wisto and York.

”Rhonda was in there telling him — instructing him — how to get dressed,” he said. “Jacob also said to his mom, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ And she said, ‘Sometimes things just have to happen.’”

When he exited Wisto’s room, Greenwell said, Hill told the others to enter York’s room, where Myers was sitting on a mattress, her wrists having been taped by Hill. Hill later told Greenwell he’d drugged Myers in the room.

“Dystiny was clearly out of it,” he said.

A pathologist previously testified that Myers had a toxic level of methamphetamine in her system.

As Miller began binding Myers with duct tape and rope, Greenwell said, Hill and York punched her. Hill also hit Myers with a baseball bat before handing it to York.

“Ty told me to hold Dystiny down while Jacob hit her legs with a baseball bat,” he said.

York then hit Myers on the shins several times, he said, and kicked and stomped her.

In his interviews with police, York said he only kicked Myers a couple of times in the legs.

After the beating, Hill placed Myers in a duffel bag, which Greenwell carried to Wisto’s truck. Wisto had placed a 55-gallon drum and a bag of flammable fluids near the truck, he said.

“She told Ty, Jacob and I to make sure we had nothing in our pockets, and she gave Ty a walkie talkie,” Greenwell said.

After the group drove to Santa Margarita, Miller began to carry Myers, whose head poked out of the bag, to a remote location.

“She looked dead, basically,” Greenwell said.


Prints found on baseball bat match suspected murderer

Frank Jacob York’s prints recovered on bat used to beat teen

By April Charlton -

March 13, 2013

A baseball bat allegedly used to severely beat a Santa Maria teen before she was killed had the fingerprints of one of her accused murderers on it, as well as several drops of blood.

Two of the three prints recovered from the wood baseball bat belong to Frank Jacob York, who is on trial for the 2010 first-degree murder of 15-year-old Dystiny Myers.

The third print on the bat didn’t have enough detail to make any type of match, according to testimony from Ken Jones, a forensic specialist with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.

Jones testified two of the three prints he was able to lift from the baseball bat matched York’s left middle finger and his right palm, and that the bat also tested positive for the presence of blood.

The bat was located in the garage at the Nipomo home of York’s mother, Rhonda Maye Wisto, who is also on trial for Myers’ murder.

The mother and son pair also face charges of kidnapping, torture and aiding-and-abetting connected to the teen’s death.

Myers was allegedly attacked with the bat as well as other weapons at Wisto’s home on the evening of Sept. 25, 2010, before she was driven to a secluded area in northern San Luis Obispo County, where her body was dumped and partially burned.

Prosecutors believe Myers died sometime during the drive from Wisto’s home in the 300 block of Mars Court to the wooded site dump site near Santa Margarita.

The teen died from mechanical asphyxiation and blunt-force trauma.

At some point during the attack, Myers was hogtied, had sweat pants tied around her throat and was duct taped from head to toe. She also had a glove stuffed down her throat during the drive to North County.

According to an autopsy report, the teen also had toxic levels of methamphetamine in her system, which contributed to her death.

A list of items needed to bury Myers’ body was found in a garbage can outside of Wisto’s home, but Jones said fingerprints recovered from the small piece of paper didn’t match any of the five suspects accused of murdering the teen.

Santa Maria resident and suspected drug dealer Ty Michael Hill had been charged with Myers’ murder and was facing the death penalty for his role in the gruesome crime.

He agreed to plead guilty to first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in exchange for the death penalty being taken off the table.

Hill was sentenced earlier this year to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Also charged in the murder are Cody Miller of Fresno and Jason Greenwell of Nipomo. Both men have agreed to plea bargains in exchange for lighter sentences and will testify for the prosecution in the case.

A large amount of blood also was discovered in the bed of Wisto’s Toyota truck, which was allegedly used to transport Myers from Nipomo to Santa Margarita.

Three shovels and numerous weapons, including knives, a sword and brass knuckles also were recovered from Wisto’s vehicle.


Prosecution presents chilling evidence in Dystiny Myers murder trial

By Patrick S. Pemberton -

March 11, 2013

After Ty Michael Hill wrote out a list of things needed to kill Dystiny Myers, Rhonda Wisto provided the items on that list, a prosecutor told a jury Monday. But more importantly, he added, Wisto enlisted her son to help kill the 15-year-old Santa Maria teen.

“She provided everything needed to accomplish this crime,” said assistant district attorney Tim Covello during his opening statements.

Two and a half years after Myers’s burned body was found in rural Santa Margarita, attorneys began presenting evidence to a jury for two of the defendants, Wisto and her son, Frank Jacob York. Three other defendants – Hill, Cody Miller and Jason Greenwell -- have agreed to guilty pleas.

While laying out the prosecution’s case, Covello said Myers, a runaway from Santa Maria, was killed because she knew about the group’s illegal activities and because she had disrespected Wisto.

“In the word’s of Rhonda Wisto’s son, ‘Dystiny had a mouth on her. She was popping off,’” Covello said.

Wisto’s attorney, Michael Cummins, said Wisto was “not a saint,” but she was also not a murderer.

“You’re going to get to know several murderers in this case,” he said, saying Hill – not Wisto -- was the ringleader. “The evidence is going to show that Ty Michael Hill is the purest manifestation of evil in human form you have ever encountered.”

York’s attorney, meanwhile, said his client never knew of the plot to kill Myers – and just happened to walk into his mother’s home after the others had beaten and bound the victim.

“Her head had been crushed by a baseball bat swung by Ty Hill,” Gerald Carrasco said.

After the gang decided to kill Myers, Covello said, they acquired the items on Hill’s list, including a tent bag, three shovels and a comforter.

“They used a lot of duct tape,” Covello said, “and I’m afraid you’re going to see how they used duct tape.”

Other items they procured included lime, rope, a baseball bat and brass knuckles, Covello said. And when the attack began in Wisto’s Nipomo home, he said, it was a group effort.

“Four men attacked (Myers), with weapons,” Covello said. “She fought, and she kept struggling, and she said she was sorry.”

At one point, he said, Hill told York to “Mark McGwire” the teen’s legs with a baseball bat. McGwire is the former home run-hitting Major Leaguer.

After the attack, Covello said, Myers was bound with tape, tied with rope and stuffed into the tent bag. Then the men took her in Wisto’s truck to Santa Margarita.

Around 2 a.m., the group stopped at a Chevron gas station in Pismo Beach to get refreshments. As unknowing Pismo police pulled into the station parking lot, Hill was looking at sunglasses inside.

“Dystiny’s outside struggling,” Covello said. “She’s making noise, so Cody Miller has to quiet her.”

Miller allegedly told investigators he punched Myers and stuffed a glove in her mouth – a glove that Kenneth Jones, a forensic specialist with the sheriff’s office, later held up for jurors.

At a rural location in Santa Margarita, Covello said, Miller carried Myers – now deceased – to a pit the group had dug. After he dropped her in the hole, Hill doused her with flammable materials, and she was lit on fire.

“And they left her like garbage,” Covello said.

The group then attacked Miller, who managed to escape – though his nose was partially amputated in the attack. He later told firefighters and investigators what had happened.

After the crime, the three remaining suspects stopped at Jack in the Box in San Luis Obispo for tacos and headed to Nipomo. Hill and Greenwell were arrested later that morning. York was apprehended that evening.

With little cross-examination from defense attorneys – who will likely save most of their questions for co-defendants Miller and Greenwell – the trial moved quickly. Members of Myers’s family, including her mother and grandmother, sat in the front row.

When Covello showed the jurors a photo of the pit, with Myers in the hole, her mother, Aileen Myers, ran out of the courtroom, sobbing. As he showed photos of the autopsy, the victim’s grandmother, Kathy Clark, followed.

The graphic photos showed a badly burned Myers, severely bound with tape and rope.

“The rope kind of went everywhere,” said Steven Crawford, who examined the body for the coroner’s office.


Possible motive in Dystiny Myers' killing: 'She was being disrespectful'

Testimony reveals one suspect told detective that the teenager was ‘disrespectful’; all five defendants are ordered to stand trial

By Nick Wilson -

February 8, 2011

Testimony in court Tuesday hinted at a possible motive for the September killing of Dystiny Myers when a detective said that one of the suspects allegedly told police that Myers was “being disrespectful.”

The second day of the preliminary hearing in San Luis Obispo Superior Court against five defendants accused of torturing and killing the 15-year-old Santa Maria girl concluded with a ruling from Judge Barry LaBarbera that sufficient evidence was presented to proceed to trial.

The defendants are Frank Jacob York, Rhonda Maye Wisto and Jason Adam Greenwell, all of Nipomo; Cody Lane Miller of Fresno; and Ty Michael Hill of Santa Maria. They are scheduled to enter new pleas at an arraignment Feb. 24 in LaBarbera’s court. They previously entered not-guilty pleas.

The new arraignment also is the deadline to determine whether the prosecution will file death penalty charges against the defendants.

Prosecutors haven’t decided whether to seek the death penalty or life without the possibility of parole if the defendants are convicted.

York told sheriff’s detective Robert Burgeson that Wisto, his mother, ordered the beating and killing of Myers on Sept. 26 at their home in Nipomo.

When the detective asked why she wanted Myers dead, York responded that “she (Myers) was being disrespectful,” Burgeson testified in court.

But no statement from York or any of the other defendants discussed by investigators in court this week has detailed exactly how Myers was being disrespectful or specifically to whom.

Burgeson testified that he also interviewed Greenwell, who told him he’d heard Hill talk about harming Myers a couple of days before her death, but “nothing happened and (Greenwell) didn’t take it seriously.”

Each of the five defendants and Myers were using methamphetamines around the time of the alleged homicide, sheriff’s detective Patrick Zuchelli testified. It’s unclear if Myers was voluntarily using the drug.

Hill also gave Myers a shot of what Greenwell believed to be heroin before she was attacked on Sept. 26 in a bedroom in Wisto’s home with blows, kicks and a baseball bat, according to Burgeson.

The details of who participated in the beatings have differed in the statements of four of the defendants — Miller, Hill, Greenwell and York — to police.

But all five of the defendants have been identified as participants in some capacity in the attack on Myers, depending on the defendants’ version of events, according to detectives’ testimony. Despite the often cold-blooded behavior of the defendants as described by detectives, York told police that he told his mother he had second thoughts about the attack on Myers just before the beating, Burgeson testified. He said he was scared, Burgeson said. But York said his mother told him “stuff has to happen,” according to the detective.

“She told him not to worry, and that it would be OK,” Burgeson said. “She told him she loved him.”

York stated that Hill planned the attack and that Hill was familiar with the Santa Margarita location where Myers was found dead after being bound, beaten and burned. Authorities found her body in a dug-out pit about 5 a.m. Sept. 26, Burgeson said.

Hill also wanted to kill Miller, one of the suspects in the crime who ran into the woods near the crime scene after he was struck in the head with a shovel, York said, adding that he heard Hill say he wanted to chop Miller’s head off with a samurai sword.

Wisto had ordered the killing of Miller, who they believed to be a police informant, according to the police statement of Hill, who spoke with Santa Maria police supervisor Daniel Cohen.

No witnesses were called to the stand by the defense attorneys Tuesday, and no arguments were made by either side.



Gruesome death of teen Dystiny Myers is described by investigators

She had sweatpants tied around her neck and a glove shoved down her throat, investigators say

By Nick Wilson -

February 7, 2011

The horrific final moments of slain teen Dystiny Myers’ life were described in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Monday by investigators who depicted the five people accused of killing her as members of a drug ring whose alleged female leader ordered the girl’s killing.

But no motive for Myers’ homicide was revealed in a preliminary hearing that continues today in Judge Barry LaBarbera’s courtroom.

Detectives described a callous homicide that was capped off by three of the defendants making a stop at Jack in the Box in San Luis Obispo for tacos.

That was after allegedly beating, binding and partially burning Myers’ body, which was discovered in a remote Santa Margarita field Sept. 26.

Myers was a 15-year-old who was remembered fondly by her teachers and principal at a Santa Maria junior high school.

She’d also spent time in juvenile hall in Santa Barbara County and had run away from home, according to investigators who took the stand Monday.

The night she died, she was allegedly assaulted by multiple defendants and beaten with a baseball bat at the Nipomo home of Rhonda Maye Wisto — the defendant who investigators said ordered her killing.

Defendants Cody Lane Miller of Fresno, Ty Michael Hill of Santa Maria and Jason Adam Greenwell of Nipomo each gave police statements that three investigators recounted at Monday’s hearing. The statements are consistent in many ways, yet it is still unclear exactly how the events transpired.

Each of the five defendants, who also include Frank Jacob York of Nipomo, has pleaded not guilty to murder charges.

Miller told a sheriff’s detective that after meeting Hill and York, he went to Nipomo to engage in and learn about drug sales and stayed at Wisto’s home for a period of time, San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s Detective Eric Twisselman testified.

Other testimony indicated that Hill, Wisto, York and Greenwell each got high on methamphetamines on the day of the incident.

According to Twisselman, Miller saw the four other defendants play a role in Myers’ beating at Wisto’s Nipomo home before they put Myers, who was still alive, in a canvas bag and carried her to a pickup with a camper shell.

Miller sat in the bed of the truck with Myers as Hill, York and Greenwell rode in the cab, Twisselman testified.

Miller told the detective he was ordered to keep her quiet at a Chevron gas station as they stopped to fill up with fuel, because law enforcement officers were at the station.

Miller hit Myers several times in the truck at the gas station before the group drove to the remote location where they dug a hole for Myers’ body, Twisselman testified.

Myers was still alive when they got to the Santa Margarita area, Twisselman said Miller told him, though other testimony suggested she may have been dead by then and that Miller had shoved a glove down her throat during the ride.

Miller told the detective that as they dug, he was whacked in the head twice with a shovel and later ran from York, who chased him with a shovel before he escaped into the woods.

Miller said he hid before fire department officials arrived, and he was taken to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center for treatment for a broken jaw that had to be wired shut.

Wisto had ordered the killings of Myers and Miller, according to the police statement of Hill, who spoke with Santa Maria police supervisor Daniel Cohen.

Wisto believed Miller was working with law enforcement as a confidant about their narcotics operation, Cohen said.

Forensic investigators found a glove shoved down Myers’ throat, sweatpants tied around her neck and skull fractures. One of her eyes had been gouged out of its socket, and there was severe bruising throughout her body.

Detectives said they found a baseball bat with blood and York’s fingerprints on it at the Nipomo home.

Myers died from mechanical asphyxiation with blunt force trauma and a toxic level of meth in her system, Sheriff-Coroner’s Detective Stuart MacDonald testified.

Sheriff’s detective Patrick Zuchelli testified that Miller told Greenwell that he’d shoved a glove down Myers’ throat during the car ride north. Greenwell also said he saw Hill light Myers’ bound body on fire, Zuchelli testified.

Later, Greenwell, Hill and York stopped at Jack in the Box on Santa Rosa Street, and Greenwell went in to buy $8 worth of tacos, Zuchelli testified.

Greenwell’s attorney, Harold Mesick, asked Zuchelli if his client appeared remorseful in the second of two interviews they conducted, and the detective said “yes.”

Other questions from defense attorneys seemed to focus on when investigators believed Myers died based on their interviews. The defendants’ statements to police seemed to differ on whether she died before or after the group arrived in the Santa Margarita area.

The hearing continues at 9:30 a.m. today in LaBarbera’s courtroom.



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