New details have emerged around the startling death of Lyric McHenry, a producer and aspiring screenwriter who gained fame as EJ Johnson’s best friend on the E! show EJNYC.
McHenry died of an overdose of cocaine, alcohol, and heroin, according to an affidavit obtained by E! News. A 29-year-old man, Alexis Mejia-Ramirez, was arrested and charged with concealment of a human corpse and tampering with physical evidence. He along with two other males allegedly dumped her body above the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx.
McHenry was found unconscious in the early morning of Aug. 14 and pronounced dead shortly after. She was wearing pajamas, her knees were scraped, and a small bag of cocaine was purportedly found near her body. In the hours leading up to her death, she was celebrating her 26th birthday on the rooftop of the Dream Hotel in downtown Manhattan with her younger sister, Maya. The New York Times reported she was around 20 weeks pregnant, though her friends and family said she was unaware of it.
A Stanford University graduate with a passion for politics — she worked for the Obama campaign in high school — McHenry had a bright future ahead. Just days before she passed away, she expressed excitement over a script she was working on for her own movie.
McHenry grew up in Beverly Hills, and her family was extremely close with the Johnsons. She became best friends with Magic Johnson’s son and Rich Kids of Beverly Hills star, EJ, even appearing on his spinoff.As tabloids speculated about McHenry’s party-girl ways after her death, the McHenry family was upset with what they considered to be racist news coverage.
“I don’t want this to be: black girl, drugs, something funky went on, what do you expect?” film director Doug McHenry, Lyric’s father, told the New York Times in an interview earlier this month. He said she was not a celebrity wild child and her death “was something that could have happened to anyone’s girl.”
After college, McHenry moved to New York City, where she worked as a video producer and writer, noting on her résumé that she had “a strong interest in entertainment and media, and how it can be used for education and social justice.” And there were other factors that drew her to the East Coast. McHenry’s boyfriend at the time, Charles Mwalimu, was attending law school in New York City, and EJ was about to shoot his new reality show.
Mwalimu told the Times that his ex-girlfriend’s lifestyle began to change when she started filming and that she used cocaine. “Especially when you have money and you go out all the time with people who do, some people keep that drug around more easily than others,” he said. “After a while, it became a casual thing.”
He added, “Over time, it was kind of reaching a place where her addiction was starting to really solidify and escalate.”
Friends denied the notion that McHenry had a drug addiction to the Times. “I don’t think she struggled with addiction,” her father said. “I think she partied.”
“She partied like everybody else parties,” her sister Maya added in the same interview. “I think it was getting a little bit out of control, but that’s just because we live in 2018 now.”
McHenry was last seen leaving her party at the Dream around 2 a.m. One friend thought she left to find a co-worker, while another told theTimes she had gone to get drugs. It’s unclear what happened before her body was discovered hours later, but an investigation is continuing.
McHenry was laid to rest in a private funeral in September. Magic Johnson called it a “difficult day.”