Post: Person of Interest Says He Left Mall With Missing Lyon Sisters

A man told police he left a Maryland mall with two sisters the day they were reported missing nearly 40 years ago, the Washington Post reported Friday.

Sheila and Katherine Lyon were last seen March 25, 1975 at Wheaton Plaza, now known as Westfield Wheaton Mall. The girls, aged 10 and 12 years old, were later spotted walking home, but by their 4 p.m. curfew, they hadn't arrived. By 7 p.m. that night, police had been called.

Earlier this year, investigators searched a property in Bedford County, Virginia, which was once owned by the family of 58-year-old Lloyd Lee Welch Jr., also known as Michael Welch. Welch, a child sex offender in a Delaware prison, was named a person of interest in the girls' disappearance in February 2014.

According to the Post, Welch told police he left the mall with the sisters that day in March, and had seen his uncle, Richard Allen Welch Sr., sexually assaulting one of the girls.  

Welch is originally from the D.C. area and was known to hitchhike throughout the region. Between the 1970s and the mid-1990s, he traveled extensively through the United States while working for a carnival company with his girlfriend, Helen Craver, police said.

Welch was charged with raping juveniles in Virginia and South Carolina. He was also arrested in a burglary not far from Wheaton Plaza.

His uncle, 69-year-old Richard Allen Welch Sr. of Hyattsville, Maryland, was named a person of interest in October. Authorities believe he was a security guard in the Wheaton area at the time of the sisters' disappearance and that the family owned property in Bedford County, said Montgomery County Police Chief Russ Hamill last October.


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Investigators from Virginia and Maryland had searched Bedford County land previously owned by the Welch family earlier this year, but didn't specify if the girls' bodies were found.

No one has been charged in the Lyon case, but Richard Welch's wife, Patricia Jean Welch of Hyattsville, Maryland, was indicted on a charge of lying to a grand jury.

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