40 Years After Sisters Vanish, Man Charged With Murder

Lloyd Lee Michael Welch Jr. indicted in disappearance of Lyon sisters
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 15, 2015 2:09 PM CDT
40 Years After Sisters Vanish, Man Charged With Murder
This file handout image provided by the Montgomery County, Md., Police Department shows photos from the original missing person/suspicious circumstances bulletin.   (AP Photo/Montgomery County, Md., Police Department)

Some four decades after two girls went missing in Maryland, a major breakthrough: Lloyd Lee Michael Welch Jr. was on Friday indicted by a Virginia grand jury on two first-degree murder charges, "bringing some clarity to the baffling case that made parents question whether to allow children out of their homes alone," as the AP puts it. Sheila Lyon, 12, and her 10-year-old sister, Katherine, disappeared after walking to a shopping mall near their Maryland home in March 1975. Despite some 2,000 leads, the case went cold until 2014, when Welch, a former carnival worker and imprisoned sex offender, was named a person of interest in their disappearance. Welch, 58, "has criminal convictions involving young female victims in the states of Virginia, Delaware, and South Carolina," the Montgomery County police chief said last year.

CNN reports Welch was at the Wheaton Plaza Shopping Center the day the girls vanished; their bodies were never found. The AP notes that Welch was spotted "paying attention" to the girls, and according to police affidavits, said he left the mall with the girls but says that after he spotted his uncle sexually assaulting one, never saw them again. Since last year, authorities have been searching a mountain in Bedford County, Virginia, about 200 miles from Wheaton, for the sisters' remains. A grand jury in that county handed down the indictment, which was initially sealed. Officials believe the girls were abducted in Maryland and killed in Virginia. Officials declined to comment on any additional suspects. Much more on the case here. (More missing child stories.)

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