Lyon Sisters Murders: Suspect Faces Abduction Claims From 2 Survivors
WHEATON, MD As prosecutors release documents ahead of the April 2017 trial of a convicted sex offender charged with the 1975 kidnapping and murder of two Montgomery County sisters from a Wheaton mall, witnesses are listed who will testify that the suspect tried to abduct at least two other women that year. Sheila Lyon, 12, and Katherine Lyon, 10, were last seen walking home from the mall in March 1975. Their bodies have never been found. Prosecutors in Montgomery County have charged Lloyd Lee Michael Welch Jr., who is locked up in a Delaware prison, with the first-degree felony murder of the girls. A judge recently ruled that Welch can face the death penalty when his case goes to trial. Welch will go on trial in April 2017 in Bedford County, Virginia, for the sisters murders. When he does go to trial, prosecutors may ask for the death penalty, a Bedford County judge ruled on Jan. 24. The judge also decided Welch breached an immunity agreement with Maryland prosecutors by changing his story multiple times; the defense said statements Welch made to police in Maryland should not be admissible during his trial, but they will be allowed.
Prosecutors say in documents posted by WSET-TV that if Welch is convicted, two women will testify during the sentencing phase that in 1975 they got into Welch’s car near the mall. The Associated Press reports the women sensed they were in danger and had rolled down the car windows “to avoid abduction.”
Montgomery County authorities believe the Lyon sisters were taken to Taylor s Mountain in the rural Virginia county where members of the Welch family live and own land and their bodies burned and hidden. In February 2015, investigators said they believed the girls were taken by the convicted sex offender and later sexually assaulted by his uncle, Richard Welch Sr., according to court documents. Investigators have searched for traces of the sisters in Bedford County. The area is the one-time home for both Welch men, authorities said. The elder Welch has been named a person of interest in the case, and has consistently denied any wrongdoing. He has not been charged in the Lyon case. Investigators have repeatedly said they suspect Lloyd Welch s relatives of knowing about his actions or those of his uncle, Richard Allen Welch Sr. of Hyattsville. The elder Welch has not been charged in the case, and his daughter says that her father is innocent.
Patricia Ann Welch said that several extended family members who live in the Bedford County, Virginia, area have lied to the grand jury. A conspiracy to hide the fate of the Lyon sisters was formed in 1975 when relatives at Taylor s Mountain failed to report what happened, she said.
Yes, he did it, I think he did it 100 percent, Patricia Ann Welch of Hyattsville, the daughter of Patricia and Richard, told WTOP and The Washington Post in July 2016 of the charge against her cousin. Lloyd has done it to other people, that s what he s in jail for. Lloyd has molested other kids. I think he s implicating my dad because he s the only one left alive. Patricia Ann Welch said there is no way her father abused the sisters; she would have been 8 years old at the time the Lyon girls were taken and told WTOP she saw nothing amiss in her family home. At least 10 detectives have spent hours talking to Lloyd Welch, along with dozens of people who are potential witnesses. His attorney said that the investigation has yielded more than 1,900 pages of transcripts from police interviews, more than 29,000 electronic files that cover wire-tap information, interview notes, audio recordings and video recordings, and an additional 1,600 PDFs that go back to 1975, reports The Washington Post.
The prosecution acknowledged the vast amount of material that attorneys have to go through to prepare for trial, and the judge granted the request for a new trial date.
Family Members Cross Investigators
Several of Welch s family members have been prosecuted for hindering the murder investigation. Leslie Joseph Engleking Sr., of Alexandria, Virginia, in February 2016 pleaded no-contest to lying to police searching for the Lyon sisters. Engleking was sentenced in June to five years in prison for lying to the grand jury, but the entire sentence was suspended in favor of supervised probation. Authorities say since his arrest for perjury, Engleking has cooperated in the investigation.
Along with Engleking, two other Richard Welch family members were charged with impeding the investigation into the sisters deaths. Gladys Stangee and Amy Johnson were charged with obstruction of justice. Stangee is Richard Welch s sister, and Johnson is his granddaughter.
Pursuing All Leads
Prosecutors said at a July 2015 press conference that the charge filed against Lloyd Welch includes the allegation that during his abduction of the sisters with the intent to defile them, he killed the girls.
John McCarthy, the state s attorney from Montgomery County, has pledged to continue to pursue anyone who harmed the girls, and those who have lied and misled investigators.
Life was never the same for any parent who tried to raise a child after the disappearance of these little girls. We ve never forgotten the Lyon family or the Lyon girls, McCarthy said more than a year ago. Capt. Darren Franke, head of the Major Crimes Unit of the Montgomery County Police, urged witnesses to come forward. I believe there s someone out there that knows a lot more than they ve shared so far, Franke said. If people have a lead, they can call (434) 534-9521 or email [email protected]
Timeline of Girls Disappearance
The girls walked to Wheaton Plaza (now Westfield Wheaton Mall) on March 25, 1975, but never returned home, Patch previously reported.
The Washington Post cited documents that say Lloyd Welch told detectives he took the girls when he left the mall the day they disappeared and that he later saw his uncle sexually assaulting one of the sisters at his home in Hyattsville. Police named Lloyd Welch a person of interest in connection with the kidnapping of the Lyon sisters in February 2014. Welch, who was charged with sex offenses against girls in several states, has been in a Delaware prison since 1997, according to police. Montgomery County Police said Welch was noticed paying attention to the sisters the afternoon they disappeared.
His uncle was named a second person of interest in the abductions in October 2014. The elder Welch was a security guard in the Wheaton area during the time of the sisters disappearance, Patch previously reported.
In an earlier letter to the Post, Lloyd Welch denied any involvement in the disappearance of the sisters.
Richard Welch s daughter told the newspaper the allegations are a lie.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Montgomery County Police at 240-773-5070.
Photo of Lyon sisters from Montgomery County Police
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- ^ Sheila Lyon, 12, and Katherine Lyon, 10 (patch.com)
- ^ prosecutors may ask for the death penalty (wtop.com)
- ^ Associated Press (bigstory.ap.org)
- ^ girls were taken (patch.com)
- ^ Richard Allen Welch Sr. of Hyattsville (patch.com)
- ^ Patricia Ann Welch (wtop.com)
- ^ The Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com)
- ^ Engleking was sentenced in June to five years in prison (www.wdbj7.com)