It's a case that has captivated the D.C. region for decades. On Tuesday, Montgomery County police have named a former carnival worker and drifter as a person of interest in the 1975 disappearance of the Lyon sisters.
12-year-old Sheila Lyon and 10-year-old Katherine Lyon went to the mall for lunch and never returned home. Investigators say they can now put Lloyd Lee Welch at Wheaton Plaza the day the girls vanished.
Investigators are hoping they are one giant step closer to solving the case and giving the girls’ parents the answers they deserve.
With a fresh set of eyes on the case, Police Chief Thomas Manger said investigators have been able to not only place Welch, a convicted child sex offender, at the mall that day, but a sketch of man released by the police at the time of the girls’ disappearance is a remarkable resemblance.
Until now, police had not linked Welch to the case.
"Welch has criminal convictions involving young female victims in the states of Virginia, Delaware and South Carolina,” said Chief Manger.
He said Welch, who was also known as Michael Welch, was known to hitchhike around the Washington D.C. area and walked the train tracks between Kensington and Silver Spring.
He had a girlfriend named Helen Craver who died in 2009.
And he traveled extensively throughout the U.S. to places including Miami, Los Angeles and Iowa before being locked up in Delaware in 1997.
"We’re looking for the public’s help,” said Manger. “Anyone who has any information about Lloyd Welch … between during that time between 70s and the 90s, we ask for them to contact law enforcement,” said Manger.
On March 25, 1975, Sheila and Katherine Lyon left their Kensington home and walked to Wheaton Plaza where they were going to have lunch at the Orange Bowl. They were seen at the mall by several people, including their older brother, and were last seen walking down a nearby street.
Captain Marcus Jones read a statement from the family on Tuesday:
"Throughout these years, our hopes for a resolution of this mystery have been sustained by the support and efforts of law enforcement, the news media and the community,” he said. “The fact that so many people still care about this case means a great deal to us.”
Investigators say they have been looking at Welch as a person of interest for months and have interviewed him in prison.
How they were able to place him at the mall the day the girls vanished is still not clear.
The case still needs some work.
"If we were able to charge somebody, we would have done it,” said Manger.
Police are looking for any and all information not only about Welch, but his girlfriend as well.
They want to hear from anyone who may have had friendships or contacts with either of them in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
The Lyon family still lives in the community. John Lyon was once a personality on WMAL radio and worked as a victims advocate for the state's attorney’s office.
The girls’ older brother is a police officer here in Montgomery County.
Anyone who may have encountered Michael Welch is asked to call investigators at 1-800-CALL-FBI, or they can submit a tip online at: http://tips.fbi.gov.
Timeline of Welch’s known whereabouts:
|January 9, 1974||Austin, Texas|
|March 25, 1975||Wheaton Plaza in Wheaton, Maryland|
|April 1, 1975||Address of 4714 Baltimore Avenue in Hyattsville, Maryland, provided to law enforcement|
|April 9, 1977||Takoma Park, Maryland|
|November 1977||Address of 1825 Main St. in Orlando, Florida, provided to law enforcement|
|November 24, 1977||Montgomery County, Maryland|
|March 13, 1980||North Miami Beach, Florida|
|September 15, 1981||Hyattsville, Maryland|
|April 15, 1982 to September 11, 1984||Incarcerated (Maryland)|
|March 18, 1987||Los Angeles, California|
|April 27, 1987||Sioux City, Iowa|
|January 13, 1988||Myrtle Beach, South Carolina|
|February 4, 1988||Sioux City, Iowa|
|December 20, 1988||Horry County, South Carolina|
|March 17, 1989||Horry County, South Carolina|
|September 1992||Lockhart, South Carolina|
|November 16, 1992||Clover, South Carolina|
|May 19, 1993||Union County, South Carolina|
|May 31, 1994||Union County, South Carolina|
|June 13, 1994||Baltimore, Maryland|
|June 21, 1994||Address of Road 3, Box 86 in Bedford, Pennsylvania, provided to law enforcement|
|July 13, 1994||Address of 1800 Elmerton Avenue in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, provided for sex offender registry|
|1995||Prince William County, Virginia|
|June 1996||Address of 2242 Sussex Court in Woodbridge, Virginia, provided to law enforcement|
|March 1997||New Castle County, Delaware|
|July 1997 to Present||Incarcerated (Delaware)|
FLASHBACK: 1985 FOX 5 Coverage of Lyon Case