Runaway teens separated with no contact during dual investigations in New York and Oregon
News 12 has learned two runaway teens who fled to Orange County from Oregon for safety this week have now been separated by authorities.
Penny Lyles, 15, and Jonathan Stockle, 18, turned to Warwick police on Monday for help, after traveling more than 2,000 miles from out west.
“Penny was actually really worried and was really tired and slept most of the way up here,” says Jonathan Stockle.
The teens were on the run from Oregon and Penny’s dad, Ryan Lyles, for almost three weeks – after two failed attempts in two different states to report his alleged abuse.
“I was terrified and felt like I failed her to be honest,” Jonathan Stockle says.
Jonathan Stockle brought Penny to Orange County where he has family, after they reported abuse to authorities in Oregon and then in Nevada after they ran away. The two teens were initially found out of state a week after they ran away. Penny escaped the custody of Child Protective Services in Nevada.
Jonathan Stockle says the two were hiding in Gallup, New Mexico, before they got driven by a friend to New York. The couple evaded authorities until they voluntarily turned themselves in to Warwick police.
After several hours of interviews with authorities, Jonathan Stockle says Penny Lyles was taken to an undisclosed location and he now has no idea where she is.
Rick Trunfio is a former upstate prosecutor who teaches law at Syracuse University and specializes in juvenile law.
He tells News 12 that Penny Lyles is likely being held somewhere safe while Child Protective Services and police in both states investigate.
“If their investigation determines that she indeed was abused, it’s not going to be as easy for her parents, her father, to get custody back,” he says.
Police in Oregon have not said that Penny Lyles was abused or that there were ever any concerns for the teens’ safety when they went missing.
Oregon authorities have not returned News 12’s repeated calls for information. Warwick, New York police and Orange County Child Protective Services declined to comment.
Her father, Ryan Lyles, denies any abuse and says the teens ran away out of fear of being separated when he planned to confront them about alleged misbehavior and drug use.
RELATED: ‘We just want both kids back safe.’ Parents of missing Oregon teens with ties to Orange County speak to News 12
News 12 confirmed with the Oregon Department of Corrections that Ryan Lyles has six felony charges, three for “marijuana delivery” and three for possessing mace/tear gas. According to published reports in Oregon, Ryan Lyles was sentenced to probation for participating in violent riots at the Oregon capitol in 2020. Ryan Lyles was released from Clatsop Community Corrections supervision in March 2022, according to the Oregon Department of Corrections.
The teens told News 12 they were fearful for their safety and believed Ryan Lyles had access to firearms when he planned to confront them about their alleged misbehavior and allegedly threatened to hurt them.
Penny Lyles told News 12 in an interview last week that Ryan Lyles once beat her with a belt and dragged her by her hair through gravel. Jonathan Stockle says he witnessed Penny’s 12-year-old brother being beaten by Ryan Lyles with a belt for 30-minutes in August after the boy didn’t fill a pigeon feeder properly.
“Ryan attacked [Penny’s brother} with the belt. [Penny’s brother] was crying, he was saying please stop. He was telling him he was sorry, that he’d fill it up,” said Jonathan Stockle. “He had cuts, bruises on his legs and lash marks on his back.
Jonathan Stockle says he and Penny Lyles reported the incidents to police in Oregon and Warwick.
Trunfio says Penny Lyle’s case will likely go to family court and it’s not clear if Jonathan Lyles could be in any trouble, since he’s legally an adult.
“This is what happens when the government fails us, when social service fails us and people start to take matters into their own hands,” says Trunfio.
Trunfio says prosecutors have discretion in cases to file charges. Jonathan Stockle says he’s prepared for any consequences and says he just wanted to get Penny Lyles somewhere safe.
“My intentions weren’t to kidnap her or bring her somewhere with force,” says Jonathan Stockle. “I’m not worried about being charged. I’m not worried about going to jail. All I want is for Penny to be OK.”