Lenora Tyes loved her family, but refused to go to Thanksgiving dinner with them in 2014, because she felt she should stay home to fix a holiday meal for her son.
Two and a half months later, William R. Tyes fatally beat his mother and hid her body while lying to family, neighbors and police about what happened.
Tyes, 39, was planning to leave town before police caught up with him on Feb. 10, 2015, four days after his mother was last seen alive, prosecutors say.
Exactly one year later, Tyes pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter, and on Wednesday morning, Erie County Court Judge Kenneth F. Case sentenced him to the maximum possible term of 25 years in prison.
Case based his decision partly on presentencing interviews in which Tyes expressed concern about how he would be treated in prison because he also is a convicted sex offender. But Tyes’ attitude toward what he did to his mother was described as “indifference,” Case said.
Family and friends in court for the sentencing were hurt but not surprised by that information.
Michael Payton, Lenora Tyes’ brother and William’s uncle, explained a little about their family before the sentencing.
“I want all to know this is one of the saddest days of my life. Not only did I lose a sister, but I lost a nephew who I love,” Payton said.
He spoke of how deeply his sister was loved by her relatives, church and community, and how she was known as “the Cake Lady” who made delicious desserts for anyone who asked. She also was called “Old Time” in her neighborhood, he said, “because she had those old-time values.”
And she tried hard to instill those values in her son, but to no avail, he said.
They loved him, yes, defense attorney Joseph J. Terranova told the court, but the family never really liked his client.
Terranova said the family was always baffled by how much Lenora Tyes did for her son, who treated her so badly. Now, he said, the question should be what kind of punishment would Lenora Tyes want for the boy known as Willie?
“It’s a no-brainer (for most people),” Terranova said. “He’s killed his mother. Who does that? … But she would have forgiven her son for what he did.”
No one is sure exactly what Tyes did or why he did it when he returned to his mother’s home on Dodge Street in February 2015. A few days before, Lenora Tyes, 67, reportedly had told her son to leave because he was stealing from her, possibly to support his drug habit.
Mrs. Tyes was seen on Feb. 6, a Friday, but she wasn’t in church on Sunday and her family became worried. They notified police, who searched her house and found her body hidden in an alcove on Feb. 10. Police also found bloody clothes in William Tyes’ duffel bag, and he was arrested.