Katherine Lyon, 10, and her sister, Sheila, 12, went to a Maryland mall 40 years ago and never were seen again. The cold case was recently reignited and a Virginia grand jury has indicted Lloyd Lee Michael Welch Jr. on two counts of 1st degree felony murder. Welch is currently serving time in a Delaware prison.
The bodies have never been found. Authorities said new evidence and testimony gleaned during the past 2 years indicate that Welch, a convicted sex offender, abducted and murdered the sisters. A portion of the crime was committed in Bedford County, Va. according to police.
Authorities said that investigation will continue and didn’t rule out possible additional charges. One of Welch’s relatives has also been charged with lying to the grand jury.
“We believe that there are people that have information, that knew about what was occurring,” Montgomery County, Maryland, Police Chief Tom Manger, “That was criminal behavior on their part, not coming forward.”
The announcement follows decades of questions from the sisters’ family and investigators.
On March 25, 1975, Katherine and Sheila walked to Wheaton Plaza Shopping Center to see an Easter exhibit and get some pizza. They were supposed to return home by 4 p.m., but when they didn’t their mother called the police. A major search found nothing. Authorities acquired more than 2,000 leads over the years, but no physical evidence. The most promising lead turned out to be false. A witness reported seeing two girls resembling the victims bound and gagged in the back of a station wagon. They reported a partial license plate number. The police later said that tip was “questionable” at best.
In 2014, after reopening the case, police announced that Welch was their prime suspect. He has been convicted of molestation in cases in South Carolina, Delaware, and Virginia. Welch was at the plaza the same day. He reportedly told authorities that he did take the girls from the mall and that his uncle molested them, not him. He claims to have never seen them again after that.
The grand jury investigation lasted 8 months. Police are still looking for physical evidence. Federal, state, and local agencies have spent “many painstaking hours” in mountainous and snowy terrain in Virginia’s Piedmont region.