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Lyon Sisters Murders: Police Lose Tooth Found At Suspected Burial Site

WHEATON, MD Forty-two years after two Montgomery County sisters vanished after a trip to a Wheaton mall, and were presumed kidnapped and killed, the only physical evidence of the girls’ bodies appeared to be a tooth found on a remote Virginia mountain. And now investigators have lost that piece of potential evidence that was listed in court documents ahead of a fall murder trial. Two of the most grisly pieces of evidence expected in the September trial are the tooth and witness accounts of bloody bags that smelled like death, which police believe may tie a convicted sex offender to the kidnapping and murder of Sheila Lyon, 12, and Katherine Lyon, 10[1], who were last seen walking home from the mall in March 1975. But WTOP reports that the tooth has been lost while in the custody of the Bedford County Virginia Sheriff s Office; it went missing before experts could test it to see if it came from one of the girls. A representative for the Bedford County Sheriff s Office declined to talk with WTOP on how the tooth disappeared. Both sides of the case are under a gag order imposed by a judge, so prosecutors and defense attorney aren’t commenting on the development.
[2]

The bodies of the missing girls 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 ruled in January that prosecutors may seek the death penalty[3] in the case.

The trial date for Lloyd Welch has twice been pushed back. The original trial for Welch was Oct. 18, 2016, in Bedford County, Virginia, but a new trial date of April 2017 was set so his attorneys can wade through hours of interviews the suspect gave with police. In February it was delayed again and Welch’s new trial date is Sept. 12, 2017. Montgomery County authorities believe the girls 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[4] 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 listing of the tooth as evidence earlier this year was the first time investigators mentioned finding any human remains. Whether the tooth belongs to one of the missing girls is not specified in court documents.

According to affidavits in the case, a relative of Lloyd Welch told police that in the spring of 1975 he came by a house on Taylor s Mountain unexpectedly with a duffle bag of bloody clothes that he wanted the relative to launder, reports WUSA[5]. A cousin, Henry Parker, also told detectives he helped Lloyd Welch burn two 60- to 70-pound duffle bags stained red and smelling of decay, reports The Washington Post[6] citing a search warrant. The bags smelled like death, Parker said in court documents. Parker told the Post in an interview that he didn t know what was in the bags that were burned on Taylor s Mountain. He told the newspaper he didn t see the Lyon sisters.

Other family members warned Parker to stay away from Lloyd Welch, saying: He s trouble. He s trouble all the way around. 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[7]. The elder Welch has not been charged in the case, and although he has been named a person of interest in the case, he has consistently denied any wrongdoing. He has not been charged in the Lyon 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[8] 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[9]. When he goes to trial, prosecutors may ask for the death penalty, a Bedford County judge ruled in January 2017. The defense said Virginia didn t allow capital punishment when the girls disappeared, but the judge disagreed, WTOP reports. The judge also decided Welch breached an immunity agreement with Maryland prosecutors by changing his story multiple times, so statements Welch made to police in Maryland will be allowed at trial.
[10]

READ ALSO:

Family Members Cross Investigators
Several of Welch s family members have been prosecuted for hindering the murder investigation.

Leslie Joseph Engleking Sr., 69, of Alexandria, Virginia, in February pleaded no-contest to lying to police searching for the Lyon sisters. Engleking was sentenced in June to five years in prison[11] 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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Originally published June 27, 2017.

More from Bethesda-Chevy Chase Patch[12]

References

  1. ^ Sheila Lyon, 12, and Katherine Lyon, 10 (patch.com)
  2. ^ tooth disappeared. (wtop.com)
  3. ^ death penalty (patch.com)
  4. ^ investigators said they believed the girls were taken by the convicted sex offender (patch.com)
  5. ^ duffle bag of bloody clothes that he wanted the relative to launder, reports WUSA (www.wusa9.com)
  6. ^ duffle bags stained red and smelling of decay, reports The Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com)
  7. ^ Richard Allen Welch Sr. of Hyattsville (patch.com)
  8. ^ Patricia Ann Welch (wtop.com)
  9. ^ The Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com)
  10. ^ prosecutors may ask for the death penalty (wtop.com)
  11. ^ Engleking was sentenced in June to five years in prison (www.wdbj7.com)
  12. ^ More from Bethesda-Chevy Chase Patch (patch.com)

Lyon Sisters Murders: Police Lose Tooth Found At Suspected Burial …

WHEATON, MD Forty-two years after two Montgomery County sisters vanished after a trip to a Wheaton mall, and were presumed kidnapped and killed, the only physical evidence of the girls’ bodies appeared to be a tooth found on a remote Virginia mountain. And now investigators have lost that piece of potential evidence that was listed in court documents ahead of a fall murder trial. Two of the most grisly pieces of evidence expected in the September trial are the tooth and witness accounts of bloody bags that smelled like death, which police believe may tie a convicted sex offender to the kidnapping and murder of Sheila Lyon, 12, and Katherine Lyon, 10[1], who were last seen walking home from the mall in March 1975. But WTOP reports that the tooth has been lost while in the custody of the Bedford County Virginia Sheriff s Office; it went missing before experts could test it to see if it came from one of the girls. A representative for the Bedford County Sheriff s Office declined to talk with WTOP on how the tooth disappeared. Both sides of the case are under a gag order imposed by a judge, so prosecutors and defense attorney aren’t commenting on the development.
[2]

The bodies of the missing girls 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 ruled in January that prosecutors may seek the death penalty[3] in the case.

The trial date for Lloyd Welch has twice been pushed back. The original trial for Welch was Oct. 18, 2016, in Bedford County, Virginia, but a new trial date of April 2017 was set so his attorneys can wade through hours of interviews the suspect gave with police. In February it was delayed again and Welch’s new trial date is Sept. 12, 2017. Montgomery County authorities believe the girls 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[4] 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 listing of the tooth as evidence earlier this year was the first time investigators mentioned finding any human remains. Whether the tooth belongs to one of the missing girls is not specified in court documents.

According to affidavits in the case, a relative of Lloyd Welch told police that in the spring of 1975 he came by a house on Taylor s Mountain unexpectedly with a duffle bag of bloody clothes that he wanted the relative to launder, reports WUSA[5]. A cousin, Henry Parker, also told detectives he helped Lloyd Welch burn two 60- to 70-pound duffle bags stained red and smelling of decay, reports The Washington Post[6] citing a search warrant. The bags smelled like death, Parker said in court documents. Parker told the Post in an interview that he didn t know what was in the bags that were burned on Taylor s Mountain. He told the newspaper he didn t see the Lyon sisters.

Other family members warned Parker to stay away from Lloyd Welch, saying: He s trouble. He s trouble all the way around. 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[7]. The elder Welch has not been charged in the case, and although he has been named a person of interest in the case, he has consistently denied any wrongdoing. He has not been charged in the Lyon 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[8] 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[9]. When he goes to trial, prosecutors may ask for the death penalty, a Bedford County judge ruled in January 2017. The defense said Virginia didn t allow capital punishment when the girls disappeared, but the judge disagreed, WTOP reports. The judge also decided Welch breached an immunity agreement with Maryland prosecutors by changing his story multiple times, so statements Welch made to police in Maryland will be allowed at trial.
[10]

READ ALSO:

Family Members Cross Investigators
Several of Welch s family members have been prosecuted for hindering the murder investigation.

Leslie Joseph Engleking Sr., 69, of Alexandria, Virginia, in February pleaded no-contest to lying to police searching for the Lyon sisters. Engleking was sentenced in June to five years in prison[11] 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

Thanks for your feedback! Now share it with your friends!

Thanks for your feedback.

Originally published June 27, 2017.

References

  1. ^ Sheila Lyon, 12, and Katherine Lyon, 10 (patch.com)
  2. ^ tooth disappeared. (wtop.com)
  3. ^ death penalty (patch.com)
  4. ^ investigators said they believed the girls were taken by the convicted sex offender (patch.com)
  5. ^ duffle bag of bloody clothes that he wanted the relative to launder, reports WUSA (www.wusa9.com)
  6. ^ duffle bags stained red and smelling of decay, reports The Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com)
  7. ^ Richard Allen Welch Sr. of Hyattsville (patch.com)
  8. ^ Patricia Ann Welch (wtop.com)
  9. ^ The Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com)
  10. ^ prosecutors may ask for the death penalty (wtop.com)
  11. ^ Engleking was sentenced in June to five years in prison (www.wdbj7.com)

Death penalty upheld as Louisiana House panel blocks move to abolish it

A move to abolish the death penalty[1] in Louisiana has been dropped in the Legislature. A House committee on Wednesday (May 17) killed a bill to end capital punishment[2], dooming a similar bill in the Senate.

Louisiana state Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, foreground, and Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia, engage in debate with members of the House Committee on Criminal Justice over a proposed ban on the death penalty. (Photo by Sarah Gamard, Manship School News Service)

The House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice narrowly defeated House Bill 101[3] by Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia, which would have eliminated the death penalty for all people convicted after Aug. 1 of capital crimes if voters agreed to the abolition. The measure failed on an 8-9 vote. In light of that decision, Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, is pulling a similar proposal that is pending in the Senate. Claitor’s Senate Bill 142[4] was the same as Landry’s bill but did not require a referendum.

“This is the toughest thing I have ever done in my life,” said Landry, a former State Police[5] superintendent who also served two years in the military during the Vietnam War. Neither bill was meant to affect the 72 people already on death row in Louisiana. Both bills would have kept their death sentences in place.

The Louisiana District Attorneys Association, Louisiana Sheriffs Association and Louisiana Chiefs of Police opposed Landry’s bill. District Attorney Bridget Dinvaut of St. John the Baptist Parish[6] told the House committee that the bill would affect a capital punishment case she is prosecuting against defendants accused of murdering two sheriff’s deputies and wounding two other deputies. One slain deputy’s relative also testified. The Louisiana Conference of Catholic[7] Bishops supported Landry’s bill and had been lobbying legislators for it. Ray Krone, an innocent man who had been on death row in Arizona, also testified for the bill. In 2002, Krone was released from prison after DNA testing showed he hadn’t committed the crime that sent him to death row. Landry’s bill failed in part because Rep. Steve Pylant, R-Winnsboro, surprisingly voted against it. Pylant, a former Franklin Parish[8] sheriff, was listed on the Legislature’s website as a co-sponsor of the bill. Had he voted for the bill, it would have passed the committee to move to the full House, and Claitor might have moved forward with his Senate bill.

Rep. Steve Pylant

Pylant spoke in support of Claitor’s bill in a Senate committee April 25, and he has given several news media interviews where he explained why he was co-sponsoring Landry’s legislation. “I think certain crimes should be punishable by death,” Pylant told The Associated Press in April. “But the fact is we’re not enforcing it. We spend millions of dollars on death penalty appeals, and we claim we can’t get the medicines to do it. … Whether you’re for capital punishment or not, it seems like at some point common sense ought to take hold. In an interview Wednesday, Pylant repeated those sentiments. But he said he got involved with Landry’s legislation only to bring attention to the fact that Louisiana isn’t executing people quickly enough. “If I hadn’t put my name on it, you wouldn’t be out here talking to me,” Pylant told reporters after the vote. Louisiana has executed only one person since 2002. Gerald Bordelon had waived his right to more appeals in 2010 and was executed then.

The death penalty is expensive: Louisiana spends $9 million to $10 million annually on defense counsel for Louisiana’s 73 inmates sentenced to death. That doesn’t count the costs for prosecutors and courts — or local parish expenditures on capital defense. Pylant said Louisiana could be executing more people if officials prioritized it. He pointed out that Arkansas executed four people in eight days in April. Arkansas initially scheduled eight executions in April, before the drugs it used to kill people were to expire, but four executions were put on hold by legal challenges. Louisiana, Arkansas and several other states are having trouble acquiring drugs for lethal injection because the drug companies no longer want to sell them to state for capital punishment.

“We say we can’t get the drugs to execute with. Arkansas has executed four or five people in the last month,” Pylant said. “So something’s not right. The powers that be apparently don’t have the will to carry out the executions.”

Claitor’s bill to abolish the death penalty won 6-1 backing from a Senate committee only hours after the first Arkansas’ execution took place. And Pylant became a co-sponsor on Landry’s legislation well before any of the Arkansas executions took place. Pylant said what happened in Arkansas didn’t influence his vote on Landry’s bill on Wednesday or change his position. But he returned to the Arkansas executions more than once in an interview.

“We need to start executing people,” he said. “They said we can’t get the pharmaceuticals. Well, why can other people get them when we can’t?”

“We don’t want to give the lethal injection? Well, we’ve got firing squads. We’ve got the electric chair. We’ve got other things,” he said. If Louisiana wanted to use a method other than lethal injection to carry out executions, it would require a change to the law. No lawmaker in 2017 brought legislation to change the method.

Here’s how the committee voted Wednesday:

Abolish death penalty

  • John Bagneris, D-New Orleans
  • Barbara Carpenter, D-Baton Rouge
  • Randal Gaines, D-LaPlace
  • Ted James, D-Baton Rouge
  • Terry Landry, D-New Iberia
  • Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge
  • Joe Marino, no party-Gretna
  • John Stefanski, R-Crowley

Against abolition

  • Tony Bacala, R-Prairieville
  • Raymond Crews, R-Bossier City
  • Stephen Dwight, R-Lake Charles
  • Chris Hazel, R-Pineville
  • Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs
  • Frank Howard, R-Many
  • Sherman Mack, R-Albany
  • Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport
  • Steve Pylant, R-Winnsboro.

References

  1. ^ death penalty (topics.nola.com)
  2. ^ capital punishment (topics.nola.com)
  3. ^ House Bill 101 (www.legis.la.gov)
  4. ^ Senate Bill 142 (www.legis.la.gov)
  5. ^ State Police (topics.nola.com)
  6. ^ St. John the Baptist Parish (topics.nola.com)
  7. ^ Catholic (topics.nola.com)
  8. ^ Franklin Parish (topics.nola.com)
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