Who Killed the Lyon Sisters? The Cold Case Finally Cracked After 40 Years

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Mar. 20 2021, Published 2:48 p.m. ET

Where is Lloyd Lee Welch Jr. now? Behind bars, as he likely will be for the rest of his life.

Content warning: Sexual assault.

In 2017, Welch, then 60 years old, pleaded guilty to felony murder in the deaths of 10-year-old Katherine Lyon and 12-year-old Sheila Lyon, who disappeared in 1975, as recounted in the Investigation Discovery documentary Who Killed the Lyon Sisters?

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The following week, he pleaded guilty to even more crimes: two counts of aggravated sexual battery.

“It’s pretty clear this guy is a pedophile, and a dangerous one. And he should never be on the streets again” Paul B. Ebert, then a commonwealth’s attorney in Prince William County, Va., said at the time, according to The Washington Post.

Lloyd Lee Welch Jr. helped abduct the Lyon sisters from a shopping mall.

Katherine and Sheila Lyon vanished after walking to Wheaton Plaza shopping mall, north of Washington, D.C., to see friends, eat lunch, and scope out Easter decorations, per the Post

Welch, then 18, participated in the abduction of the sisters, aware that others intended to sexually exploit the girls, as the newspaper reported. According to authorities, the girls were abused and murdered, and prosecutors said Welch burned the remains of at least one of the girls.

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But it wasn’t until 2015 that Welch was charged for the killings, after cold-case detectives in Montgomery County, Md., learned that extended family members reported witnessing Welch carrying two large duffel bags on the family’s property in Bedford County, Va. Witnesses told investigators that he put a duffel bag in a fire and that the fire had “the stench of death,” according to the Associated Press.

Welch confessed that he participated in the abduction but maintained that he did not participate in the sexual assault or the murder of the girls, per attorney Tony Anderson. But because he admitted to the girls’ abduction, he was responsible for their murders, as well, under the felony murder doctrine, as the Post reported. 

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Source: CBS This Morning/YouTube

“We just want to say, simply, ‘thank you,’ and it’s been a long, long time, and we’re tired, and we just want to go home,” John Lyon, the father of the girls, said after the sentencing, per the AP.

Welch was sentenced to 48 years in prison and could become eligible for parole in his 80s, but Bedford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Wes Nance said the chances of him getting parole are “very slim or none,” according to the AP.

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Welch also pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual battery in other cases.

A week later, Welch pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual battery in cases that were uncovered by the same cold-case detectives that worked the Lyon case. Welch molested one girl when she was 8 and sexually assaulted another when she was 6, according to the Post.

The two victims spoke out about Welch in court during his plea hearing, with one calling him “the dirt I walk on every day.”

For those crimes, Welch was sentenced to 12 years in prison, to be served concurrently to his 48-year prison sentence for the Lyon case. “With the whole package, I think justice is being served,” Ebert said at the time.

If you need support, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit RAINN.org to chat online one-on-one with a support specialist at any time.

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