Lloyd Welch charged with murder in missing Lyon sisters case

The 40-year-old mystery surrounding the heartbreaking disappearance of Sheila and Katherine Lyon sisters has finally been solved.

The sisters vanished in March of 1975 after walking to the Wheaton Plaza mall from their nearby home.

On Wednesday, prosecutors announced Lloyd Welch, a convicted sex offender, has been indicted on two counts of first-degree murder with the intent to defile.

Welch has been a person of interest in the case since last year when police said cold case detectives discovered a link to the one-time carnival worker that had previously been missed.

Welch, who is now in prison in Delaware, was told on Tuesday that he had been indicted last Friday by a special grand jury in Bedford County, Virginia where investigators believe the girls were taken and later buried.

"If we see a little farther down the road at this precise moment, it is only because we stand on the shoulders of the giants in law enforcement and prosecution here in Montgomery County that got us to this point and continue to work with us," said Bedford County Commonwealth's Attorney Randy Krantz.

Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger said 50 search warrants have been filed in a case that his detectives have never set aside.

"Over the years, many detectives, some who have long since been retired, have worked on this case," Chief Manger said. "But in fact, it was a younger detective who finally saw the missing piece of the puzzle two years ago."

Although prosecutors would not discuss what may have been found, investigators believe Sheila and Katherine Lyon were buried on Taylor's Mountain in Thaxton, Virginia where several searches have been conducted in recent months. The Welch family at one time owned property there.

Although Lloyd Welch is the only one indicted in the murders so far, Krantz said Welch's uncle, Richard, remains a person of interest.

Richard Welch's wife, Patricia, was indicted on a felony perjury charge earlier this month for lying to the grand jury.

The evidence against Lloyd Welch has been laid out in affidavits attached to search warrants that have now been unsealed.

In interviews with detectives, Lloyd Welch admitted being in a car with the girls after their abduction and claims to have last seen them with his uncle.

Prosecutors hope to have Welch in Bedford County sometime in the next 30 days where they will get the trial process started.

The parents of the missing girls, John and Mary Lyon, came to the news conference Wednesday greeting investigators and prosecutors who have worked on the case over the years.

They sat quietly as officials from Bedford County and Montgomery County announced the indictment of Welch, who has been locked up in Delaware serving time for sexually abusing a child.

The parents sat at a picnic table within earshot of the announcement, but away from the glare of more than a dozen cameras and reporters who gathered to hear the news and ask questions about a deeply troubling case that had captivated the Washington area for 40 years.

The couple did not speak with reporters and left before it was over.

"If this helps the Lyon family, this is a happy day for me," said Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy. "These are wonderful, wonderful people who have suffered an immeasurable loss."