Ryan Lawrence is behind bars for the murder of his 21-month-old daughter, Baby Maddox, born Maddox Lawrence, whose charred body was found in a creek in Syracuse, New York.
On Feb. 20, 2016, the plan was for Lawrence to pick up his wife, Morgan, at her job, Destiny USA, around 10 p.m. Instead, he sent her a text message that said the vehicle would be parked in the parking lot with the keys in the ignition.
When her shift ended, Morgan drove to her home in the 1000 block of Valley Drive, but Lawrence and their daughter were nowhere to be found.
Fearing the worst, Morgan contacted the Syracuse Police Department and reported Baby Maddox missing.
The New York State Police issued an Amber Alert and a missing persons alert for the father thereafter.
On the afternoon of Feb. 22, 2016, a former employee at Thrifty Shopper on Downer Street in Baldwinsville called 911 and reported seeing Lawrence, who was 24 years old at the time.
She claimed that Lawrence was buying a comforter at the store, but he was disguised in a black wig, hat, and sunglasses, and a bandana was covering his mouth.
At first, she thought he was a vagrant, but then she recognized him from the Amber Alert.
Onondaga County Sheriff Gene Conway said, “The caller indicated that she knew him, that she had known him in the past, and she seemed to indicate she knew who he was.”
When officers with the Baldwinsville Police Department and the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the store, they spoke with Larence, who initially told them his name was “Rlo Rivers.”
After confirming his identity, officers took Lawrence into custody. It was then that he told detectives that Baby Maddox was safe and that he had given her to “Chris and Tyler,” a couple who lived in another country.
Lawrence later admitted that he made it up.
During an interrogation that lasted more than 15 hours, Lawrence confessed to killing his daughter.
“You won’t look at me the same way when I tell you what I did with her body,” he said to the detective.
Moments before he murdered her, Lawrence said he prayed that God would send him a sign.
He said, “God, if I’m not meant to kill her, make her stumble.”
Using a wooden baseball bat, Lawrence claimed he beat Baby Maddox on the head before he burned her body as well as the murder weapon in a fire pit at Labrador Hollow near Tully in Cortland County.
For three hours, he would occasionally pour gasoline on it to keep the flames going.
According to an indictment, Lawrence put his daughter’s charred remains in a container.
He then drove to Syracuse’s Inner Harbor and discarded Baby Maddox’s remains, which had been tied down to a cinder block.
Detective Mark Rusin said he went to the scene and found the fire pit as well as an “aluminum can, a spray paint bottle, burned logs, and matted down snow turned to ice,” according to Syracuse.
Shortly before 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 23, 2016, Syracuse police divers recovered her body from the water, and an autopsy later determined that Baby Maddox’s cause of death was blunt force trauma.
Lawrence was charged with second-degree murder. He was booked into the county jail, where he was held without bail.
Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick described Baby Maddox as a fighter because “she fought cancer and won.”
Just several months before her first birthday, she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer.
Lawrence and Morgan spent months taking her to hospitals in New York City for treatment.
During that time, Baby Maddox may have been getting a lot of attention, and attorneys in the case stated that Lawrence became jealous, which they believe was the motive for the killing.
On March 23, 2016, Lawrence’s charges were upgraded to first-degree murder, kidnapping, and tampering with physical evidence.
The charges came after a psychiatrist conducted a mental health evaluation and deemed him competent to stand trial.
Detectives announced that Morgan was not involved in Baby Maddox’s kidnapping and murder.
On Sept. 15, 2016, nearly seven months after Baby Maddox’s murder, Lawrence took a plea deal to avoid a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in Onondaga County Court.
At his sentencing, Lawrence, who did not have a criminal record prior to the incident, said, “Although I blame no one else for my act, as the pressures to give her the perfect life built up.”
“I also struggled against negative waves of emotions, bearing witness to the pain and sadness of many of my wife’s and daughter’s interactions,” Lawrence added.
“Yet no reason and no psychological diagnosis seemed plausible to me to make me commit this act against my nature, to take the one thing I love most.”
“Not a second goes by that I don’t wish I could take back what I did and that Maddox would still be alive. I pray she is in a better place.”
Lawrence was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. And as part of the plea deal, Lawrence waived his right to appeal.
After Baby Maddox’s death, a Facebook page was created to honor her memory and her life.