39 Years After Sisters Vanished, Suspect Named

Police looking for information on carnival ride operator

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 12, 2014 7:12 AM CST

(Newser) – Sheila Lyon, 12, and her sister Katherine, 10, went to see an Easter exhibit at a Maryland shopping mall on March 25, 1975, and were never seen again. Some 39 years later, police yesterday named a person of interest in the case, Reuters reports. Lloyd Lee Welch, now 57 and imprisoned in Delaware since 1997 on child sex-related convictions, was at the time a carnival ride operator and drifter. Police believe he was at the Wheaton Plaza mall, near Bethesda, the day the sisters disappeared, and say he was "observed paying attention" to the girls and may have been following them. They were last seen walking home.

Police have given no details on how they connected Welch to this case, though the Washington Post reports that when going through old case files last year, a Montgomery County police official says "he jumped out at us." Police say they don't have enough evidence for an arrest and are asking anyone who has had contact with Welch or his late girlfriend, Helen Craver, to come forward. Welch's stepmother tells NBC Washington she remembers Welch watching the news about the disappearance on TV: "They were talking about a reward for information," she says. "Lloyd thought he was going to get something in it, I reckon, and he called in and said he knew something, but I don't think he knew a darn thing."

This handout provided by the Montgomery County, Md., Police Department shows the original missing person/suspicious circumstances bulletin for the 1975 disappearance of Sheila Lyon and Katherine Lyon.
This handout provided by the Montgomery County, Md., Police Department shows the original missing person/suspicious circumstances bulletin for the 1975 disappearance of Sheila Lyon and Katherine Lyon.   (AP Photo/Montgomery County, Md., Police Department)
This handout image provided by the Montgomery County, Md., Police Department shows the Montgomery County Police mugshot of Lloyd Welch in 1977.
This handout image provided by the Montgomery County, Md., Police Department shows the Montgomery County Police mugshot of Lloyd Welch in 1977.   (AP Photo/Montgomery County, Md., Police Department)
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