Lloyd Welch Jr., man charged in 1975 slayings of Lyon sisters, signals willingness to plead guilty

The trial of a man charged in the 1975 slayings of two sisters who vanished from a Montgomery County mall has been withdrawn, apparently signaling his willingness to plead guilty.

Lloyd Lee Michael Welch Jr. was charged in connection with the disappearance of 12-year-old Sheila Lyon and 10-year-old Katharine Lyon back in 2015. The sisters were walking from their house to the Wheaton Plaza Mall in Wheaton, Maryland in 1975 and never returned home. No bodies were ever found.

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Investigators said Lloyd Welch, an imprisoned sex offender, was at the mall the day the girls vanished and was seen paying attention to them. Authorities said Lloyd Welch was a former carnival worker who implicated himself in the case during numerous interviews with detectives.

His name was brought up early in the investigation but was never considered a serious suspect until a new detective on the case helped to start put the pieces of the puzzle together in 2013.

"Over the years, many detectives, some who have long since been retired have worked on this case but in fact it was a younger detective who finally saw the missing piece of the puzzle two years ago," Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manager said back in the summer of 2015.

A search was conducted on a mountain side outside of Bedford, Virginia after investigators had information that the girls may have been buried there. in interviews with investigators, Lloyd Welch pointed his finger at his uncle, Richard Welch, as a partner in the crime. Police named Richard Welch as a person of interest in the case but he has never been charged.

However, Richard Welch's wife Patricia Welch testified before the grand jury in the case and lied. She took an alford plea in the summer of 2016 and received a suspended sentence and probation.

The Bedford County Court's website indicated that Welch's trial had been switched to a motion hearing on Tuesday. FOX 5 reached out to Lloyd Welch's attorneys but they have not responded, but we should note there is a gag order in the case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.