In 1975, two little girls in Maryland went missing and today police have finally named a suspect in their disappearance. A 57-year-old convicted sex offender, Lloyd Lee Welch, also known as “Mike” or “Michael,” currently serving time in Delaware on unrelated charges, has been identified as a person of interest in the case.
Nearly 40 years ago, Shelia and Katherine Lyon, ages 12 and 10 respectively, went missing on a spring afternoon in March. One of the places they were last seen was at the Wheaton Plaza in Kensington, Maryland, a suburb in the greater Washington, D.C. area. The two girls reportedly went to the location just a half mile from their home to get pizza, but never returned home. Police say that they now have reason to believe that Welch was near the girls at the shopping plaza on the day of their disappearance and that he was witnessed keeping a close eye on them. His girlfriend at the time of the girls’ disappearance, Helen Carver, may have also had a connection to the case, though she is now deceased. The two reportedly traveled as carnival workers and had been part of an attraction set up at the plaza.
Police aren’t yet saying how the identification and naming of Welch as a suspect in the 1975 disappearance of the two Maryland girls came to be. They are asking the public, however, to come forward with any additional information about the suspect or his girlfriend that might be pertinent to the case, saying “we need to know more about his activities.” Officers working on the case understand that a long time has passed since the girls disappearance but are hoping that someone will remember something that will be of use to them in solving the case and bringing the family some sense of peace after nearly four decades.
Police believe that Welch, known to be a drifter for a period of two decades from the 1970’s to the 1990’s, may also be implicated in a number of other unsolved crimes around the country. Though he has been convicted of multiple sexual offenses against young girls, police believe there may be even more victims out there that have not come forward.
Along with the fading of the case years ago, were the fading hopes of the family that the two girls might one day be found alive. Their father John Lyon, a local radio personality, reportedly used his media connections to widely publicize the search for the two girls at the time of their disappearance but to no avail. The family placed a marker in a local cemetery 16 years ago to commemorate the girls’ lives, including the date of their disappearance in place of the dates of their deaths. Sheila and Katherine Lyon would be ages 50 and 48 today if they were found alive. The family has thus far declined to comment on this latest development in the long cold case. The older brother of the missing girls went on to become a homicide detective.
The 1975 disappearance of the two Maryland girls led to numerous tips and phone calls demanding ransom in the days and weeks after they went missing, though none ever led to much more information. Police have previously identified two other suspects over the years since the Lyon sisters disappeared, it seems they now have a third and are hoping that at last they may be able to provide some long-awaited answers.
By Michele Wessel