Investigation Discovery is airing a one-off special to determine who killed the Lyon sisters, two young girls who were abducted from the parking lot of a Maryland shopping mall in 1975.
After four decades of searching for justice for Sheila and Katherine Lyon, a cold case unit re-examined the case, which finally led to the conviction of Lloyd Lee Welch Jr.
On March 25, 1975, 12-year-old Sheila Lyon and her little sister, 10-year old Katherine, visited a shopping mall in Wheaton, Maryland, a suburb of Washington DC, and were never seen again.
The disappearance shocked the metropolitan DC area and changed the way people thought about parenting. 1975 became the year that people stopped letting their children roam free and unattended.
The case also triggered one of the largest searches in history, with multiple agencies searching woods, fields, buildings, and even sewers. But despite the efforts of hundreds of people, the investigation turned up nothing. The girl’s disappearance remained a mystery.
In 2013, another in a long line of cold case units decided to look at the evidence. Detective Chris Homrock came upon a file that featured 18-year-old Lloyd Lee Welch.
Welch, a teenage druggie, had told the police about a week after the kidnapping that he had seen Sheila and Katherine being abducted. He gave the police a full and detailed description of the so-called kidnapper.
He failed a polygraph test, and the cops had concluded after a while that he was a lying fantasist who was trying to pretend he was a hero.
Police now suspected Welch of being the killer
However, Homrock now wondered if Welch had actually been trying to throw the cops off his trail. When the new team looked further into Welch, they learned he was already in prison after being convicted of molesting a 10-year-old girl.
Under intensive questioning, Welch finally admitted he’d aided in the kidnap but also insisted he had delivered Sheila and Katherine alive to his father and uncle at their home in Hyattsville, MD. He said his uncle Dick Welch had led other family members in gang rape followed by murder and dismemberment.
The entire Welch family came under suspicion. As well as the house in Hyattsville, the Welch’s were also based in rural Virginia on an area called Taylors Mountain. Neighbors had reported a bonfire and a dreadful stench coming from the Welch’s home the week the girls disappeared. Had their remains been burnt?
During one interview with Lloyd Welch, detectives asked him his opinion on what he thought happened to the girls. He said they were “raped, killed, and burned.”
In 2017, 60-year-old Welch stood in front of a judge and pleaded guilty to felony first-degree murder on two counts. He was not charged with directly killing the girls, but his actions were deemed to have led to their deaths. He was sentenced to 48 years and will almost certainly die in prison.
The police and the family finally had a conviction after 42 years of waiting. However, the police still don’t see the case as a success given there are too many unanswered questions, and the girl’s bodies were never recovered.
More from Investigation Discovery
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The heir to the Max Factor fortune, Andrew Luster, drugged and raped at least three women before the police arrested him. While out on bail, he fled to Mexico before being eventually captured by Dwayne ‘Dog The Bounty Hunter’ Chapman.
Who Killed The Lyon Sisters airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.