Bedford County, VA — Lloyd Welch, the prime suspect in the 1975 cold case of two missing Maryland sisters–Katherine and Sheila Lyon–has revealed to authorities that the young girls were kidnapped so they could be sexually abused, Virginia investigators said at at a news conference.
“The motive of the abduction of the Lyon sisters was to sexually exploit, abuse and defile them,” said Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown.
Katherine, 10, and Sheila Lyon, 12, disappeared in March 1975 after they went to the Wheaton Plaza Shopping Center in Maryland to see an Easter exhibit and grab a slice of pizza. Investigators had not made any progress in the case until 2013, when detectives decided to reopen the investigation.
The following details the “Operation Worthy Cause” partnership between Virginia and Maryland authorities:
Thirty-nine and one-half years after their disappearance, Bedford County, Virginia’s law enforcement community was introduced to the Katherine and Sheila Lyon and briefed on the decades of work that Montgomery County, Maryland investigators and prosecutors had done to bring the Lyon sisters’ killers to justice.
The Montgomery County Police Department’s Major Crimes Unit detectives’ search led them to Bedford County on September 12, 2014. The Unit arrived at the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office and informed Bedford investigators of their ongoing investigation into Shelia and Katherine Lyon’s disappearance.
Bedford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Randy Krantz, Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown, Virginia State Police Captain Tim Lyon, and each of their respective investigators met with the Montgomery County Police Department detectives at the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office. After being briefed and without hesitation, Maryland authorities became a full participating partner in “Operation Worthy Cause,” the ongoing identification and apprehension of those responsible for the abduction and murder of two innocent children, whose disappearance has so profoundly affected their family, friends and this entire community and beyond.
Within a few hours, Bedford County Sheriff’s investigators,Virginia State Police Special Agents, and the Bedford Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office began the process of organizing a multi-agency response. By the weekend, Bedford County’s long-standing approach of coordination, cooperation and communication to resolve major violent crimes was launched with our Maryland partners.
Thousands of man/woman-hours have been brought to bear on this case. Old fashioned police work and advanced criminal investigative analysis has been utilized to learn the fate of Shelia and Katherine and the identity and culpability of those responsible for their abductions and deaths. The FBI’s Evidence Recovery Team, Virginia State Police, Montgomery County Police Department and Bedford County Sheriff’s Office investigators have engaged in a painstaking search for forensic evidence in Bedford County in harsh terrain and freezing wet weather for days on end.
In October 2014, Bedford County’s Krantz began presenting evidence relating to this case to a Bedford County Multi-Jurisdictional Grand Jury, which has remained in session continuously since its empanelling.
As a result of the evidence presented before the Grand Jury, indictments were handed down in this case on July 10, 2015, in Bedford County. The indictments were sealed at that time, but were unsealed today.
Krantz obtained indictments charging Lloyd Lee “Michael” Welch, Jr., with first degree felony murder for his involvement in the deaths of Shelia and Katherine Lyon based upon the totality of the evidence revealed by the investigative efforts of law enforcement and sworn witness testimony.
The investigation remains active and shall continue. In addition, the Grand Jury remains in session to make further indictment decisions as necessary and proper.
“I would like to add that during my tenure as sheriff I have emphasized specialized training in many areas of our law enforcement duties,” said Sheriff Mike Brown. “None has proved more beneficial in this investigation than the specialized training in the area of crime scene investigation and the specialized field of interviewing techniques.”