The young woman stood in a steady rain Wednesday afternoon, staring out over the overgrown Point Breeze lot where police on Sunday found the bludgeoned body of her cousin Iris Tyson.

The woman, who did not want her name made public, said she came to the spot in hopes of some sense of closure. But seeing the trash-strewn lot only brought more questions.

"My cousin would never come here on her own," she said.

Police are still investigating how the pretty and petite Tyson, 23, wound up beaten to death in the vacant lot off Syndenham Street, a dead-end back alley of mostly vacant houses just north of Federal Street.

Tyson, who lived with her parents on American Street near Ritner, about two miles from where she was discovered, disappeared on Mother's Day.

Her family said she left the house about 1 p.m. to buy a card and gift for her mother. When she did not return by evening, her parents filed a missing person's report.

For a week, friends and relatives plastered missing person posters across South Philadelphia.

Sunday, a person collecting bottles discovered Tyson in tall weeds next to a vacant house and called 911. Tyson died from blunt-force trauma to the head, police said.

Police have not said whether she was killed at the lot or dumped there.

Detectives are interviewing Tyson's friends, said Lt. Raymond Evers, and are trying to determine who last saw her alive. Police have not identified any suspects.

Wednesday, Tyson's sister, Carol Leidy, 20, and some of her cousins sat in living room of the family home preparing photos for a memorial service. Her parents were at a relative's home planning the funeral, she said. Tyson had a large extended family, her sister said.

"We all looked up to her," her sister said. "She was one of the most prettiest girls."

Her name, Iris, was short for Irish, her sister said. She called her rescued cat, Yum Yum, and referred to it as her daughter. She was not working but wanted to go back to school to become a veterinarian, Leidy said.

She dolled herself up, even if she was just lying around the house, and she loved to sing, Leidy said.

"Hero," by Mariah Carey, she said. "Or even the Spice Girls. And if she was singing rap, then maybe DMX. We had to buy her a karaoke machine a few years ago."

Tyson was close with her parents, especially her mother, Leidy said.

"They were best friends," Leidy said.

She said she and her sister had made a bond: "That she would be the godmother to my first child someday and that I would be the godmother to her first child.

"Now I'll never have that."

Inquirer staff writer Allison Steele contributed to this article.

Follow the Inquirer at and