By Dan Morse and Lynh Bui, (c) 2017, The Washington Post
At times patient, at times pushing, the cold-case detectives again went at Lloyd Welch inside the small interrogation room.
Sheila and Katherine Lyon.
It was their 11th session with the longtime sex offender, who held answers to questions that had haunted a Maryland family for more than 40 years: What happened to Katherine and Sheila — the Lyon sisters — after they vanished from a shopping mall in 1975?
“I know I should be worried about the girls, the family, puttin’ it to rest and stuff like that,” Welch told the detectives. “But you also got to look at it, I’m a survivor. I’ve lived on the street. And like I told you, I’ve also gotta think of me. What’s going to happen to me?”
But soon, Welch was describing a gruesome story. In the days after the girls were abducted, Welch said, he’d gone into a dungeonlike basement, where he saw his father and an uncle dismember one of the girls. Her remains were put into a large bag, Welch said, which was taken to rural Bedford County, Virginia, and thrown into fire.
His words, on May 12, 2015, further implicated Welch in the deaths of the Lyon sisters, to which he pleaded guilty Tuesday in Bedford, Virginia.
The conviction of the former carnival worker, after 42 years, marked an extraordinary moment in a case that stunned the region in 1975. The girls’ disappearance on a day when they had walked to a mall to have lunch, meet friends and look at Easter decorations at Wheaton Plaza became a seminal event for thousands of people, convincing them the world was no longer as safe as they had believed. That Kate, 10, and Sheila, 12, had seemed to vanish, and no culprits had been caught, enhanced the terror.
Welch’s plea to two counts of first-degree felony murder answered some but not all of the lingering questions in one of the Washington area’s most painful mysteries.
Left unknown is who — if anyone — besides Welch was involved in the Lyon sisters’ deaths, where they were killed and where the bodies are. Authorities have said other participants in the murders are either dead or their roles could not be proven.
“It keeps me up at night,” one of the investigators said recently.
Welch, 60, stood before a judge and admitted that he participated in the abduction of the sisters …read more
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