Murder charges in maryland sisters case – Details

Murder charges in maryland sisters case

Authorities on Wednesday announced first-degree murder charges against an imprisoned sex offender in the disappearance of two sisters from a suburban Maryland mall in 1975, bringing some clarity to the baffling case that made parents question whether to allow children out of their homes alone.

Sheila Lyon, 12, and her sister Katherine, 10, disappeared 40 years ago in the Washington, D.C.-area suburb where they lived.

Last year Maryland police identified Lloyd Lee Welch, 58, as a “person of interest” in the cold case about the sisters. During a press conference in Wheaton, Maryland, where the girls disappeared, law enforcement announced charges against Welch.

Lloyd Welch is serving time in the Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna after his 1997 arrest on a number of unlawful sex charges, according to Superior Court electronic records. He pleaded guilty to first-degree unlawful sexual intercourse and unlawful sexual penetration in 1998.

He had worked as a ride operator for a carnival company, which often set up at malls, and he has been arrested in several states and charged with sexual offenses against young girls.

For the past two years, investigators have been looking at Welch, but the grand jury proceedings, in Bedford County, Virginia, where Welch relatives have owned land, have been closed to the public. Based on witnesses seen going in and out of the courtroom, though, it appears that investigators and prosecutors are focused on what members of the Welch family may know about the case. Since September, authorities also have searched a mountain in Bedford County for the girls’ remains and searched homes linked to the family.

Welch spoke to investigators recently and told them he was at the shopping mall with the sisters the day they went missing, according to police affidavits filed in court. Lloyd Welch also said that the next day, he saw his uncle sexually assaulting one of the girls at his uncle’s house in Hyattsville, according to police affidavits filed in court.

Authorities have been searching a mountain near Bedford, Virginia, for the sisters’ remains and other clues since last year.

His uncle, Richard Allen Welch’s wife, Patricia Jean Welch, 65, was indicted by a Bedford County, Virginia, grand jury. She is accused of lying to the grand jury investigating the case of the missing sisters.

Delaware’s Board of Pardons in August denied a commutation request for Lloyd Lee Welch. The abuse that led to his current prison term began shortly after Welch started watching a pornographic video while a girl “was in the living room area with him,” according to court records. He then kissed her on the mouth before he began sexually abusing her. The child was the daughter of Welch’s then-girlfriend.

New Castle County police were contacted July 17, 1997, after the mother learned of the abuse.

According to the court document, he admitted to abusing the girl and was charged with 11 crimes. He pleaded guilty to first-degree unlawful sexual intercourse and unlawful sexual penetration on Jan. 5, 1998.