A 24-year-old man is facing murder charges after his missing 21-month-old daughter was found dead in a Syracuse lake on Tuesday, police say.
An Amber Alert had been issued Saturday for Maddox Lawrence after the girl’s mother, Morgan Lawrence, came home to find her husband and daughter missing. After Maddox’s body was found, her father, Ryan Lawrence, was charged with second-degree murder, Syracuse Police said in a press release.
Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler called the baby’s death a “heinous and illogical act.”
“I can only think of two other cases in my history at this department that has touched me in this manner,” Fowler said at a press conference Tuesday.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ryan Lawrence Might Have Been Jealous of the Attention His Daughter Was Getting, the DA Says
The district attorney says Ryan Lawrence may of been jealous of the attention Maddox Lawrence received from his wife, Morgan Lawrence, CNY Central reports. The prosecutor said Morgan Lawrence, the girl’s mother, is not believed to have been involved in her daughter’s death, the news station reports.
Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick said Morgan Lawrence is “heartbroken.”
On Sunday she sent a tearful message to her daughter and husband at a press conference.
“Ryan, if you’re listening, please just bring Maddox home,” she said, her voice breaking. “Maddox, I love you honey, Ryan please just call, we just want to know that the both of you are safe. The whole family loves you, the whole family wants you both home, and we just want to know that you guys are in a good place and we’d love to see you both as soon as possible.”
The Amber Alert issued Saturday said Ryan Lawrence “has a history of mental health issues and is emotionally unstable.”
Police have not released further details about that history or whether he has a criminal record.
Few details about his background were available on Tuesday.
“This is a tough investigation for all involved,” Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler said Tuesday. “It’s a special situation when talking about children. You’re supposed to protect children.”
2. Maddox Lawrence’s Body Was Found by a Dive Team in the Icy Syracuse Lake
A baby’s body believed to be Maddox Lawrence was pulled from Syracuse’s Inner Harbor on Tuesday, after police said were led their by their investigation.
The New York State Police Dive Team entered the “cold and icy water” Tuesday afternoon, Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler said at a press conference. The body was found near section E of the Creek Walk near Bear Street and VanRensalear Street.
“We obviously have to wait for DNA testing to determine for sure, but at this point we are unfortunately confident it is baby Maddox,” Fowler said.
3. Ryan Lawrence Was Arrested Monday Afternoon While Wandering in a Nearby Town
The Amber Alert for Ryan and Maddox Lawrence had been issued Saturday night.
Police said Morgan Lawrence told investigators her husband usually picked her up from work, but on Saturday night he called her and said their car was in the parking lot where she works along with the keys. When she got home she found a note that made her fear he was going to harm himself or their daughter, and called police.
On Monday, at about 4:30 p.m., a 911 caller in the nearby village of Baldwinsville said she saw a person matching the description of Ryan Lawrence walking alone down the street, police said. He was stopped by local police and later taken to the Syracuse Police Department.
“This information that we received came from a 911 caller, who saw the Amber Alert,” Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler said. “This citizen picked up the phone just as we would ask all citizens to do and called the police department. As a result we were able to locate Ryan Lawrence. At this point we didn’t know the whereabouts of baby Maddox.”
Police said after a neighborhood canvass and information obtained through interviews, they charged Ryan Lawrence with second-degree murder.
4. His Mother Was the Longtime Director of a Victim’s Advocate Program
Ryan Lawrence’s mother, Mary Lawrence, was the director of the Victim’s Advocate Program at the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office for 10 years, Syracuse.com reports.
She died in 2008 of kidney cancer.
Mary Lawrence became the victim’s advocate after her brother was murdered in 1990, the newspaper reports. She had a falling out with District Attorney William Fitzpatrick in 2003 and left the office, but continued to work with abusive men and their victims until her death, the newspaper reports.
5. Police Have Not Released Details About How Maddox Was Killed
Police have declined to release details about how Maddox Lawrence was killed. They say the investigation is still continuing so a proper case can be presented for prosecution.
The district attorney said they believe the girl was killed in Cortland County at Labrador Hollow and it is not known why Ryan Lawrence brought her body to the Inner Harbor in Syracuse.
Ryan Lawrence is being held at the Onondaga County Justice Center without bail. He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
He is expected to be arraigned Wednesday morning and could face additional charges.
“Anyone with information is asked contact the Syracuse Police Department at 442-5222. Anonymous tips can be submitted using the SPD Tips App,” police said.