A former Los Angeles resident was named a person of interest Monday in the cold case disappearance of two young sisters who vanished from a shopping center near their home in suburban Washington D.C. in 1975.
Sheila, 12, and Katherine Lyon, 10, were last seen just after 2 p.m. on March 25 after walking half a mile from their home to Wheaton Plaza — now Westfield Wheaton Mall — to look at Easter decorations.
Their mother told them to be home by 4 p.m. that afternoon, but they never returned and have not been seen or heard from since, according to a news release from FBI Agents in Baltimore.
On Monday, the FBI along with the Montgomery County Police Department Cold Case Squad named convicted sex-offender Lloyd Lee Welch Jr., aka Michael Lee Welch, as a person of interest in the girls’ disappearance.
Authorities stated in the release that the 57-year-old was noticed paying attention to the sisters at the shopping center on the afternoon they vanished.
“We have all been haunted by the disappearance of the Lyon sisters,” Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger. “Even though so much time has passed, we have not forgotten that those young girls deserve justice, and their family deserves closure. We’re hoping one of you has information that will help us provide both.”
Welch has been in prison in Delaware since 1997. But before his incarceration, authorities said Welch traveled extensively throughout the country, even working as a ride operator for a carnival company, which often set up at malls, the release stated. He lived in the Los Angeles area in 1987.
Welch was arrested and charged in several states for sexual offenses against young girls. Authorities believe he may have had other victims.
Detectives were asking the public to try to remember any dealings they may have had with Welch over the years, particularly around the time the Lyons sisters vanished.
“We understand we’re asking people to think back several decades to remember details they may not think matter,” said Steve Vogt, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Maryland. “However, the information you provide could be vital in our search for evidence, and put to rest difficult questions for the Lyon family and for any other victims who may exist.”
Anyone who may have encountered Michael Welch was asked to call investigators at 1-800-CALL-FBI, or they can submit any details to http://tips.fbi.gov.