Father: Murder suspect had ‘hit/miss relationship’ with Yellow Springs victim

Zyrian Sky Atha-Arnett
Caption
Zyrian Sky Atha-Arnett

The arrest of the man accused of killing 26-year-old Leonid “Lonya” Clark came as a surprise to the victim’s parents, as the suspect was a longtime friend of their adopted son.

Zyrian Sky Atha-Arnett, 26, was arrested Friday at his home in Enon and is being held in the Greene County Jail on suspicion of murder and aggravated felonious assault, according to jail records.

>> Search of Enon apartment connected to Yellow Springs homicide case

“We certainly were glad that they had arrested somebody. Honestly, it was a little bit of a surprise to us that it was Zyrian,“ Eric Clark said Monday. “In a lot of ways, it opens up a whole lot more questions than it does provide answers.”

Leonid Clark went missing in January and searches were unsuccessful in uncovering clues to what happened to him until mushroom hunters discovered his body by the Little Miami River in April.

Clark died of multiple stab wounds to the head and neck areas, according to the preliminary findings from the autopsy report. Defensive wounds were apparent on the victim’s hands and arms; the state of his body indicated the body had been submerged in water for a prolonged period of time, according to the coroner’s report.

Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer said it’s important that residents in Yellow Springs and Greene County know a suspect is in custody.

“The person we arrested has been a person of interest for a couple of months now. We’re very confident we have enough information to pursue the charges, which we did,” Fischer said. “We believe he is the person that caused the death of Lonya Clark.”

It’s not clear whether there will be more arrests in the case.

Atha-Arnett pleaded guilty in July to a carrying a concealed weapon charge in Clark County, according to court records. He was indicted on the charge in May, a few weeks after the Clark homicide investigation began. He was sentenced to three years of community control as part of the plea agreement, according to the records.

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Greene County was assisted by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations. Investigators from both agencies executed at least two separate searches of the Enon apartment where Atha-Arnett lived with his father, including one in September.

Capt. Sean Magoteaux, who supervised the investigation for Greene County, said after the September search by BCI that the residents of that apartment were not suspects in the case.

Fischer said the $5,000 reward that was offered did not lead to the tip that led to Atha-Arnett's arrest.

Through their initial inquiries in looking for their son, the Clark family had determined that no one had heard or seen Leonid, who was also known as “Leo” and “Lonya,” since the early evening of Jan. 13.

“Somewhere in there there are a whole lot of details as to what happened after 5 o’clock or so,” Eric Clark said.

The suspect and Leonid Clark had been friends since childhood, but it was a "hit/miss relationship," in which they were "best friends one week and didn't speak to each other the next week," Eric Clark said.

The arrest comes seven months after Leonid Clark’s body was found and the Greene County Sheriff’s Office launched a homicide investigation. The prolonged investigation has been difficult on the parents Eric and Jackie Clark, who have met periodically to share information with investigators in hopes of solving the case.

“We last met in September. BCI was there. They split us up and put us in interrogation rooms. They apologized afterwards. They had to go back through and ask all the questions they may have forgotten to ask ... All these random questions about subjects that had already been discussed,” Eric Clark said.

Atha-Arnett is being held on $750,000 bond. The case is expected to be presented to a grand jury for a formal indictment on the charges.

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