How Investigators Solved A Gruesome Mystery After Unearthing A 40-Year-Old Sketch

On March 25, 1975, Lloyd Lee Welch Jr. shattered the innocence of Kensington, MD, when he abducted two sisters, Katherine and Sheila Lyon. Though the people of Kensington knew that life had changed drastically after the disappearance and murder of the two girls, they didn't know Lloyd Lee Welch Jr. was the one responsible.

Many unsolved murders have suspected perpetrators, but evidence and witnesses often disappear, and investigations go cold. Reopened cold cases rarely get approached with the same intensity as a new case - not because authorities are less passionate about solving cold cases, but because the leads are usually much more difficult to follow decades after a crime is committed.

Nonetheless, around 2012, the Montgomery County police decided to treat the abduction and murder of Katherine and Sheila Lyon like a new case. The detectives dove into an enthusiastic review of boxes full of evidence for any clues they may have missed.

  • Katherine and Sheila Lyon Vanished Five Days Before Easter In 1975

    In 1975, Kensington, MD, was a typical wholesome American community - the type of community where kids rode their bikes without parental supervision and walked to their friends' houses alone.

    However, in March of 1975, only five days before Easter, Katherine and Sheila Lyon took a walk from their home to a nearby shopping mall to get pizza and look at Easter decorations. That was the last time that any of the sisters' family or friends saw them alive.

  • A Massive Search Ensued, But No Charges Were Filed For Almost 40 Years

    Immediately after the March 25, 1975, disappearance of the Lyon sisters, police and members of the Kensington community conducted a massive search for the girls. Sadly, the searches produced very little evidence and, even more unsettling, the extensive searches failed to locate either of the Lyon sisters.

    For decades, the girls' parents, John and Mary Lyon, were unable to find closure; not only did they not know what happened to their daughters, but they had no clue who took them - or why.

  • In 2012, Detectives Reopened The Case And Acted As Though The Sisters Had Just Gone Missing

    In 2012, Detectives Reopened The Case And Acted As Though The Sisters Had Just Gone Missing
    Video: YouTube

    Between late 2012 and early 2013, the Montgomery County, MD, police reopened the Lyon sisters' cold case. However, instead of treating the decades-old abduction like an ordinary cold case, detectives decided to comb through the old evidence and explore new leads.

    The police approached the case in the same manner they would an open case: They worked the old evidence like it was new - and they acted as if Katherine and Sheila might still be alive.

  • Police Discovered A New Suspect Thanks To An Old Mugshot And An Old Sketch

    Through the detectives' fresh review of the evidence related to the Lyon sisters' abduction, police were able to make a critical connection. The officers noticed a striking resemblance between a mugshot of prior suspect Lloyd Welch Jr. taken in the 1970s and a police sketch of a possible suspect in the abduction of Katherine and Sheila.

    In 1975, police ruled out Welch as a prime suspect after a friend of Katherine and Sheila's told police that an older man with a tape recorder had been following the sisters around the mall. Though the police questioned Welch, he didn't become a primary suspect until almost 39 years after the crime.

  • Lloyd Welch Jr. Admitted To Police That He Left The Shopping Mall In Kensington, MD, With The Lyon Sisters

    In 2015, investigators began questioning Welch again, and he finally admitted to police that he left the shopping mall with both sisters on March 25, 1975. However, he denied being involved in harming either girl, instead identifying his uncle, Richard Welch, who would have been 70 years old in 2015, of assaulting and killing the two sisters.

    When Welch was charged with the murders in 2015, he was already serving a sentence for sexually assaulting a female minor in South Carolina. While detectives believe that Richard Welch likely played a role in the Lyon sisters' fates, they were unable to charge him. Nonetheless, Virginia police helped conduct a lengthy search of the Welch property - which was 200 miles away from Kensington, MD, in Bedford County, VA - hoping to find physical evidence.

  • Welch Recounted The Assault And Murder Of The Lyon Sisters But Showed No Remorse

    In his confession to police, Welch explained the gruesome details of Katherine and Sheila's abduction, assault, and eventual murder. While he denies assaulting either girl, he recounts that someone else did.

    Additionally, Welch told investigators that shortly after the kidnapping, he remembers taking the girls into a dungeon-like basement. In the cellar, he witnessed his uncle, Richard Welch, and his father dismember one of the sisters. Welch then explained that the dismembered remains were stuffed in a large bag and taken to Bedford County, VA, to be burned.

    In his conversations with police, Welch stated:

    I know I should be worried about the girls, the family, puttin’ it to rest, and stuff like that... 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?