In February 2009, Lesley Herring went missing in the Los Angeles area and was never seen again. Her younger sister Aasha Davis, an actress best known Friday Night Lights and Grey’s Anatomy, has never stopped hoping they’ll find her sister’s body. Ahead of the Dateline NBC episode about Herring’s disappearance, read on to find out what happened and who was charged in her murder.
Herring Disappeared After a Fight With Her Husband
In March 2009, Davis recounted to CBS News what happened the last time anyone saw her sister alive. She told Julie Chen that Herring’s husband, Lyle Stanford Herring Sr., was the last person to see Lesley. According to him, they had a fight, he went to sleep, and when he woke up, Lesley was gone.
Davis also told Chen that for two weeks after her sister’s disappearance, no one could find Lyle either.
“We searched for him for almost two weeks after she disappeared. And we could not get any response from him,” she said. “Once he returned, he was very difficult to contact. We could contact him through e-mail, and he would choose what he would answer, what questions, and most of the time they weren’t about my sister. They were only about him.”
At the time, Davis said she just knew something bad had happened to Lesley.
“I think something terrible might have happened to her, just because I know that my sister would be in contact with us. She would want us to know where she was. She would know that we would worry about her so much,” Davis said. “But my hope is that she’s OK and that she just needs to know that we want her home soon and that we miss her and love her and that she’s safe to come home.”
Unfortunately, Lesley never did come home.
The LAPD Suspected Lyle From the Start
According to KACB-TV, the Los Angeles Police Department suspected Lyle right from the start, but they did not arrest him until over a year after Lesley disappeared. During the trial, prosecutor Pak Kouch said that Lesley was thinking of leaving her husband and he could not let that happen, so he killed her.
In the two weeks where Lyle was also MIA, he was in Mexico, according to True Crime Daily. He claimed he and Lesley had plans to go there for Valentine’s Day, so he went there to look for her when she went missing. He also said some criminals to whom he owed money caught up with him at that time and shaved his head as punishment as a way of explaining why he had changed his appearance.
“I worked the gang unit for several years and I’ve never ever heard of some gang members holding someone down to shave their head and shave their goatee off, so that was a first,” LAPD detective Chris Gable told True Crime Daily.
Gable also said that it appeared as though Lyle was trying to make it look like he and Lesley were in contact with each other several days after she disappeared because there were calls between their cell phones. But Lyle didn’t think of one key part of that plan.
“There were several calls between Lesley’s phone and Lyle’s phone,” said Gable. “What he didn’t think is that we would also track the cell tower usage and show that both phones were side by side when they were doing the calls, suggesting that he’s holding one phone, calling the other one.”
The police later learned from Lyle’s cousin Malcolm that during this time, Lyle became distraught one day and said to Malcolm that “he was gonna burn in hell for what he did to Lesley.”
And a witness at Lyle’s condominium complex told the police he saw Lyle wheeling a dolly to the back elevator around midnight on the night Lesley disappeared.
“Around midnight he saw Lyle wheeling a dolly way down the hallway to a far back elevator, and on the dolly was a carpet which he described rolled up, wide enough to contain a body. Lyle had this crazed look on his face, he had a hoodie pulled up, he was sweating and he didn’t even acknowledge the witness,” said Gable.
While Lesley’s body has never been found, her husband was convicted of murder in her death in 2013.
Lyle Was Charged With Second-Degree Murder in 2010
The final nail in Lyle’s coffin was when the LAPD brought in a cadaver dog, who sniffed out the smell of human remains in both the trunk of Lyle’s Cadillac and in the back of his Mitsubishi SUV.
“Our theory was that after her murdered her, he took her down to his SUV, then he transferred her body over to an old vintage Cadillac that he owned, puts her body in there, drives back to his condominium. Once he figures out what he’s going to do, he puts the body back into the Mitsubishi and uses the Mitsubishi to discard her body, and that’s why we got decomposition hits in both vehicles,” said Gable.
After a three-week trial in 2013, Lyle was found guilty of second-degree murder and later sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. Lesley’s body was never found, but the judge in the case noted that the circumstantial evidence pointing at Lyle was “overwhelming,” according to the City News Service (via Patch).
In September 2013, Lyle was booked into the state prison in Tehachapi, California. He appealed his conviction, arguing that the cadaver dog evidence was improperly admitted in his original trial, but in 2015, a three-judge panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeals upheld his conviction. According to Westside Today, the panel found an “abundance” of compelling evidence that Lesley was dead.
“There is no evidence that the couple argued or that Lesley said or did something that provoked Herring. There is no evidence of Herring’s response to any provocation. That Herring killed while in a heat of passion is nothing more than speculation,” the panel found.
Dateline airs Fridays and Saturdays, plus the occasional weekday, on NBC.