Nearly 40 years ago, two young sisters, 12-year-old Sheila Lyon and 10-year-old Katherine Lyon went missing.  On Tuesday, Maryland police have new information and a possible breakthrough in the case.  Convicted sex offender Lloyd Lee Welch Jr., 57, who has been serving a prison sentence in Delaware since 1997, was in the area of the Lyons on the day they disappeared in 1975.

Welch was at a plaza that was among the last places the girls were seen and he was observed paying attention to them, according to Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger.  The police are asking for anyone with information about Welch to contact them.  Police also released photographs of him and his now-deceased girlfriend, Helen Craver, whom police are also seeking information about.

“We need to know more about his activities,” Manger said.

Welch also went by Michael “Mike” Welch and worked as a ride operator for a carnival company that was setting up attractions in malls around the country in the 70s.  His girlfriend also worked for the company.  Welch has “multiple convictions for sex offenses against young girls,” Manger said.

Welch--2--JPGInvestigators believe that Welch may have been involved in other unsolved crimes.  He was a drifter and sometimes stayed in shelters.  Montgomery police are not officially calling him a suspect and are not releasing how they obtained the new information.  If the girls are still alive, they would be 48 and 50 years old now.

johnmarylyon16 years ago, the parents (left:  John and Mary Lyon) of the two girls put a marker in a cemetery inscribed with their birth dates and the date they went missing.  The case faded from headlines decades ago, but the police department kept the case open, largely because Jay Lyon, who was one of the last people to see his sisters, became a homicide detective.

The girls, just a few days shy of celebrating their birthdays, which were one day apart, stepped out for some fun on the first day of Easter school vacation.  They walked half a mile to a nearby strip mall to check out the Easter decorations.  Their mother told them to return by 4 p.m.  At 7 p.m. their parents reported them missing.  Police investigated and questioned passersby.  Witnesses reported seeing the girls and one saw them walking in the direction of the shopping center.  A child saw them talking to a stranger, the man was holding a microphone and a briefcase, but the girls walked away from him.

An hour later, their brother Jay, 15 at the time, saw them at the shopping center eating pizza.  After that, a witness spotted them walking in the direction of their home.  Had they arrived, they would have made it home by curfew.  The girls’ father, John Lyon, was a well-known radio host in the Bethesda area at the time and made sure that the story of his daughters’ disappearance made the media rounds.

The case quickly went cold.

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