BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. — Katherine and Sheila Lyon went to a Maryland mall 40 years ago and never came back.
Finally, now, one person has been officially accused of being responsible for the sisters’ abductions and deaths: Lloyd Lee Michael Welch Jr.
Bedford County, Va., commonwealth’s attorney Randy Krantz announced Wednesday that a grand jury in his state indicted Welch, who is now in a Delaware prison, last week on charges of first-degree felony murder during an abduction with attempt to defile in the sisters’ deaths.
Krantz told reporters that he will try to extradite Welch back to Virginia to face the charges. Authorities didn’t rule out others being charged in the case.
The announcement follows years of torment for the Lyon sisters’ family and work by investigators, who announced Tuesday that a breakthrough in the cold case was coming.
The episode began on March 25, 1975, when 10-year-old Katherine and 12-year-old Sheila walked to the Wheaton Plaza Shopping Center to see an Easter exhibit and grab a slice of pizza.
They were supposed to come home by 4 p.m. When they didn’t, their mother called authorities and a major search ensued, according to the Charley Project, a website that profiles thousands of missing people, mainly from the United States.
Authorities acquired more than 2,000 leads throughout the decades, never leading to any physical evidence.
The most promising lead was a witness in Virginia who reported seeing two girls resembling the victims, bound and gagged in the back of station wagon. Unable to get the entire license plate number, police later deemed the report “questionable.”
The case turned a corner in 2014 when authorities named Lloyd Welch Jr. and his uncle Richard Allen Welch Sr. prime suspects in the case.
A convicted sex offender who molested young girls in South Carolina, Delaware and Virginia, Lloyd Welch was at the Wheaton Plaza Shopping Center the same day as the Lyon sisters. He told authorities he left the mall with the girls and later saw his uncle molesting them. Lloyd Welch says he never saw the girls again.
A grand jury has been investigating, and authorities are searching for the bodies.