By Anna Bolton
XENIA — An Enon man was indicted in Greene County Common Pleas Court Nov. 13 for the murder of 26-year-old Leonid “Lonya” Clark of Yellow Springs.
The indictment comes less than one week after Zyrian Skye Atha-Arnett, 26, was arrested at his home. He was charged with murder, facing 15 years to life, and felonious assault.
According to the summary of facts in the case, Clark’s father said his son and Atha-Arnett had been friends since grade school but had had a “love-hate” relationship.
Clark’s family reported him missing to the Yellow Springs Police Department Feb. 5, saying he had not made any contact with them since Jan. 13. His body was found on the banks of the Little Miami River just west of Grinnell Road on April 12, according to Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer.
Fischer said the next day’s autopsy indicated Clark suffered multiple stab wounds. The case then turned into a homicide investigation.
“Investigators from my office began by identifying and interviewing associates of the victim, which included Zyrian Atha-Arnett. We first had contact with him on April 23, 2019,” Fischer said. “Hundreds of interviews were conducted by my investigators. Multiple search warrants were served … Thousands of hours were put into this investigation by all parties involved.”
According to the indictment, Atha-Arnett allegedly murdered Clark on Jan. 13. Fischer said he believed the alleged crime happened in the area where Clark’s body was found.
Authorities said technology — gathered through search warrants and analyzed with the help of a Bureau of Criminal Investigation analyst — has played a large part in the investigation.
On the day of the alleged murder, phone records show the two men texting and planning to meet up in Yellow Springs, according to the summary of facts filed by the prosecution. Cell tower records show Atha-Arnett’s phone traveling to Yellow Springs, then to John Bryan Park. Google Location records put Atha-Arnett’s phone at the location — within approximately 200 feet from the river that Clark’s body was discovered — from 8:45 p.m. to 10:20 p.m on Jan. 13.
The same data shows the same phone traveling to that location 37 times between Jan. 14 and April 30. Google Search history data shows Atha-Arnett allegedly searched “yellow springs news” and “lonya clark” more than 300 times during the same time period.
The document also states that a co-worker of Atha-Arnett noticed he had a deep cut in his hand, bruises around his neck and scratches on his arms and chest when he came into work Jan. 16. Atha-Arnett reportedly texted his friend just before midnight on Jan. 13: “Yeah sorry just accidentally cut myself so I was cleaning myself up.” Other text messages he sent Jan. 14 indicated he twisted his ankle and hurt his knee the night before, according to the statement of facts.
Greene County Prosecutor Stephen Haller would not comment on the motive.
“That will come out in trial,” he said.
Assistant Prosecutor David Hayes will head the trial team. Judge Michael Buckwalter will handle the case.
Yellow Springs Police Chief Brian Carlson thanked law enforcement for their work on the case, the village for providing tips, and Buckeye Search and Rescue Dogs for leading searches.
“And I’d like to say thank you to the Clark family for enduring what must be the most terrible reality that a parent could possibly face,” he said. “Know that you are in our hearts and our prayers.”
Atha-Arnett is in the Greene County Jail on a $900,000 bond with arraignment expected to be scheduled Friday, Nov. 22. Fischer said Atha-Arnett pleaded guilty to a different charge in Clark County this year after pointing a loaded firearm at a co-worker.