Girl reunited with parents
A smiling 9-year-old girl returned to her family Tuesday night, and to a community that has been steeped in sadness for days.
After disappearing six days ago Dyresha Williams was surrendered to police by her mother, who took her from Al Tahoe Elementary School and fled to Reno.
Edwina Lee, 27, was arrested by the South Lake Tahoe Police and has been charged with child concealment. If convicted she could face up to three years in prison.
“We are thrilled to have Dyresha back and to bring this to a happy conclusion,” said Detective Donna Kingman, who worked with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies trying to find the girl.
“The worst part was missing my parents because I can’t sleep without them,” Dyresha said with a grin.
Her father, Damon Williams, said he and his fiancee also had trouble sleeping while Dyresha was gone but since she has come home they haven’t been able to stop smiling.
“I am so happy that she is here and that she is all smiles and dimples,” Williams said. “While she was missing we had to hug each other so much just to be strong.”
FBI agents were able to contact Lee through friends, and eventually convinced her to return Dyresha to her father, Kingman said. Lee reluctantly agreed to bring her daughter to South Lake Tahoe, and at 10:20 p.m. she met police at the school where Dyresha was abducted.
Dyresha did not know who her mother was and said she was scared when Lee took her from Mrs. Lease’s third-grade class. Lee hasn’t seen her daughter in three years, according to Williams.
Lee told Kingman that she wanted to develop a relationship with her daughter and took Dyresha on a bike ride and to the park over the weekend. She took her to a salon and braided her hair.
“I am very grateful that she wasn’t hurt,” Williams said. “I just hate that (Lee) felt she had to do this. She has always been able to see Dyresha, she just chose not to.”
Williams and others said Dyresha’s return home was especially joyous after the murder of another 9-year-old South Lake Tahoe girl. Krystal Steadman disappeared Sunday from a Stateline apartment building where she and her mother were visiting a family friend. Her body was found at the side of U.S. Highway 50 the next morning.
“It is just horrible,” Williams said. “Dyresha used to play with (Steadman). They were friends and had the same babysitter.”
Barbara Davis, assistant superintendent of the Lake Tahoe Unified School District, said everyone needed some good news.
“We are so happy Dyresha is back and we are glad that she is safe,” Davis said. “I think it is a nice way to turn things around for our district emotionally. Out of all the horror of the event some nice things have come about.”
Williams is angry that the school let Lee take his daughter and thought he had made it clear that she could not pick Dyresha up from school.
However, Lee’s name was listed on Dyresha’s enrollment sheet and as far as the school was concerned she was allowed to see her daughter.
Davis is sure the school district did not do anything wrong but said, “these are the most difficult situations to deal with.”
She added that the district will be reviewing its security policies to see if there is anything else that can be done in the future to prevent similar crimes.
“I am sure (her teacher) feels we could have done more because it is terrible and we don’t what it to happen to anyone,” Davis said.
Williams said he is going to enroll Dyresha at Sierra House Elementary School where she went to kindergarten.
“We will feel safer there,” he said.
“It will be nice,” Dyresha said of going to a new school. “I have a lot of friends I can see at Sierra House.”
Williams added that he will still allow Lee to see her daughter in the future, but Dyresha said she does not know if she wants to see her mom again.
“I like it at home a lot better,” she said.
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