Jackson County woman wants abuse case against husband dropped
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Stephanie Lizon is eight months pregnant and living out of her car in Ripley.
It's been almost a year since police accused her husband, Peter Lizon, of keeping her locked with metal padlocks and chains for about a decade, smashing her foot with a tractor bucket and forcing her to give birth in captivity on their farm in Leroy.
Stephanie Lizon, 43, denies all those allegations and said they were fueled by made-up, sensational stories told by people who don't know her or her husband. The allegations have torn apart her family, she said.
"If this is going to be a battle of public opinion," Stephanie Lizon told the Gazette on Thursday, "then I think both sides should have a say."
The abuse accusations started after Stephanie Lizon checked into a women's shelter in Parkersburg in July 2012. Her roommate there allegedly told a health-care provider that Lizon had confided about how her husband severely abused her for many years. Prosecutors and police later pointed to several photos of alleged injuries on her body as probable cause to charge Peter Lizon with malicious wounding.
He has not been indicted.
"[Police] didn't think to talk to the postmaster who saw me every day at Leroy when he came to pick up our mail?" she questioned. "This girl at the shelter, she didn't even know me."
Stephanie Lizon said she's caught in a system designed to protect victims but instead is making her feel like she's lying. Prosecutors are pushing a case against Peter Lizon without her cooperation or testimony.
"These kind of victimless prosecutions weren't designed for situations in which the victim said it never happened or the victim never reported the crime," she said.
After testifying in favor of her husband during a preliminary hearing, Stephanie Lizon said her legal troubles began.
"They made it clear from the very beginning, 'OK Miss Lizon, you are going to corroborate our story or we'll take your son away."
Stephanie said the state began working to seize her 2-year-old son, Mojmir, soon afterward. Instead, Peter and Stephanie Lizon agreed to give permanent custody of Mojmir to Stephanie's parents in Virginia. In late April, Stephanie Lizon was arrested after police said she took her son to Jackson County without permission. They charged her with felony child concealment.
"I said this isn't going to be over until I spend some time in South Central, too,'" she said, referencing her legal troubles and what she believes is law enforcement targeting her.
Stephanie Lizon waited in the South Central Regional Jail for a month before the charge was dismissed. No one showed up to a court hearing to testify against her.
During that time, a woman and two other suspects Stephanie Lizon had trusted to feed her dogs and goats allegedly stole items from the Lizons' home. Police say the suspects then burned down the house on May 2.
Stephanie Lizon said she lives out of her car and sometimes motels, when she can get the money. She is forbidden from seeing Peter Lizon as a condition of his release on bail.
She's angry and frustrated that the case has been hanging on for as long as it has been, she said.
"I don't want to compromise," she said. "I didn't do anything wrong and I don't see why we should behave like guilty people or sit on pins and needles waiting for something to happen."
Reach Travis Crum at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5163.