Aileen Myers’ anguish weighs on the words she uses to describe the death of her teenage daughter. She pauses often, taking deep breaths, wiping a steady stream of tears from her eyes before continuing.
Dystiny, whose body was found burned and left in a remote area near Santa Margarita, was her only daughter. Five people — two men and a woman from Nipomo, a Santa Maria man and a Fresno man — are accused of murdering her.
Her mother has been in Santa Barbara County Jail since mid-July for a misdemeanor charge of being under the influence of an illegal drug. The Tribune recently interviewed her at the jail.
The 39-year-old woman hadn’t seen her daughter for several weeks before her body was found Sept. 26. Myers last hugged her daughter in July.
Two weeks before Dystiny, 15, was discovered dead, she ran away from the Santa Barbara group home where she was assigned to live after Myers was arrested.
Detectives visited Myers in jail at the time to see if she could offer any information that might help investigators find her daughter, but they didn’t find Dystiny in time.
Then Myers saw news about an alleged murder on television. The next day, deputies came to tell her it was her daughter who had been found dead.
Myers said she didn’t know where her daughter had gone or what she was doing in the time she was missing.
She was allowed to attend Dystiny’s funeral in Santa Maria with a police escort, but she won’t be let out to attend the trial that is expected to begin sometime next year.
The five people being held on suspicion of murder are Jason Adam Greenwell, 20, Frank Jacob York, 19, and Rhonda Maye Wisto, 47, all of Nipomo; Ty Michael Hill, 28, of Santa Maria; and Cody Lane Miller, 22, of Fresno.
“I just want to look them in the eyes and ask them why,” Myers said. “I want to know why they killed my Dystiny.”
Myers carries two photographs of her daughter tucked into the white T-shirt she wears beneath the jail issued clothes — keeping the memory of her daughter close to her heart.
One photo shows a smiling young girl, eyes sparkling, her jet black hair showing from beneath a baseball cap.
Myers said her daughter was quick to help those less fortunate and had become friends with many of the teens living on the streets in Santa Maria where she had lived.
“A lot of those kids don’t have anyone to trust — they are abused and have nowhere to go,” Myers said.
As Dystiny befriended some of them, over time Myers began to call them her own.
But Myers doesn’t know any of the five who were arrested, and she said that Dystiny didn’t know them, either.
Detectives working the case haven’t told Myers how her daughter died or what happened that night, Myers said.
Myers agonizes over the thought that Dystiny might have suffered.
She refuses to eat the jail food, sticking to a liquid diet, because she says she doesn’t want to eat the same food that the suspects might receive while being kept in County Jail in San Luis Obispo.
The only comfort, she said, comes from knowing that Dystiny lives on in the hearts and thoughts of those who loved her.
“You can’t kill an angel,” Myers said. “And my daughter was an angel.”
Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.