Dych sentenced for September 2000 murders
Janet V. Dych will spend the rest of her life in prison without the possibility of parole for her involvement in the September 2000 murder of Melissa Collier.
Judge Rex Henry Ogle handed down the maximum sentence on Friday, May 21, and also sentenced her to a 25-year prison term – to be served concurrently – for facilitating the first-degree murder of Leeann Lytle.
A jury of her peers convicted Dych on both charges last month.
Defense attorney Charles Poole indicated he would appeal the sentence to the Tennessee Supreme Court. According to Poole, the basis for his appeal will be the Pigeon Forge Police Department’s “intentional and deliberate” withholding of Dych’s medication after her arrest, which he said rendered her incompetent to make a statement or waive her right to an attorney.
In his remarks before sentencing, Ogle described Dych’s actions as “especially heinous, atrocious, and cruel” and said “she conducted herself with cruel and intentional certainty” during the course of the crime. He said the circumstances of the case, “at best, are bizarre,” and “her environment was unusual, to say the least.”
Noting, “the law demands justice and the life of Melissa Collier demands justice,” the judge concluded, “I must do justice in my mind. If this case does not deserve life without the possibility of parole, then no case does.”
Just as she did during the course of her trial, the 25-year-old Dych – dressed this time in a black and white striped jail uniform – showed no emotion when Ogle’s sentence was declared. She was led from the courtroom, past the victims’ families, in handcuffs and shackles to be transported to prison.
Both of the victims’ mothers addressed the court before Ogle rendered his decision.
Pat Collier, mother of Melissa Collier, said, “A part of me is gone forever. A part of me was viciously taken away. My daughter was taken from the lives of her sister and two brothers. A father now has one less little girl. So many people were robbed of a dear friend.
“Although nothing can ever bring Melissa and Leeann back, those who were involved in … brutally stripping them of their lives should be punished to the fullest extent.
“These murderers’ actions were unjust,” she said, “and now justice should be served.”
Leeann Lytle’s mother, Suzanne Lytle, said the murders “changed [her] life forever” and “affected so many people in so many different ways. Not only are there now mothers and fathers without daughters – and brothers and sisters without their siblings – there are also two innocent little boys without their mother.”
Pointing to her daughter’s friendship with those involved in the crime, Lytle said, “What they have done is not something you can take back, or just apologize for. Two precious lives were mangled and then stolen. The damage cannot be undone.”
She asked that “for the sake of LeeAnn and her now-motherless children, these murderers and all who were involved be held accountable for their actions and face the strongest consequences.”
Outside the courtroom, members of both families breathed a sigh of relief at the sentence, although they must go through the ordeal all over again when Dych’s husband, Garry Jonson, faces trial. The date of his court appearance has not yet been announced.
But one family member’s statement summed up all their sentiments: “There’ll really never be closure because we don’t know why.”