Habitual sex offender pleads guilty to murdering two young sisters — more than 40 years ago

A convicted sex offender who admitted to abducting and killing two young Maryland sisters in 1975 was sentenced on Tuesday.

WDBJ reports that Lloyd Lee Welch Jr., 60, received two 48-year sentences after pleading guilty to two counts of first-degree felony murder. The sentences will be served concurrently.

Katherine and Sheila Lyon, ages 10 and 12, disappeared from a Kensington, Maryland, shopping mall on March 25, 1975. Though the girls’ remains were never found, authorities reportedly told the Associated Press they believe Welch burned their bodies on a mountain in Bedford County, Virginia.

Still, there remains a possibility that a body or partial remains may still be on the mountain: The Washington Post reports that the 60-year-old was prosecuted in Bedford County, Virginia, because police suspected that at least one of the girls’ bodies were buried there.

Despite entering guilty pleas, Welch reportedly denied killing and sexually assaulting the two sisters during a court appearance. He also declined to provide additional information about the Lyon sisters’ disappearance.

The Associated Press reports that Welch was working for a traveling carnival when the girls disappeared.

Welch will start serving the 96-year sentence in 2026, after he completes a sentence for an unrelated sexual assault of a 10-year-old in Delaware. As part of a plea agreement, he pleaded guilty to another sexual assault in Virginia and was handed another 12-year sentence, the local station noted.

Detectives zeroed in on Welch in 2013 after they noticed similarities between a composite sketch of the suspect and a 1977 mug shot of Welch. Authorities never released Welch’s sketch but publicized a drawing of an older man who had a tape recorder and microphone and was seen talking to the girls.

Officers did interview Welch at the time but released him because they thought he was after the $9,000 reward.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Bedford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Wes Nance revealed that other people were possibly involved but said that Welch’s accomplices were either dead or their role couldn’t be proven. However, Nance said that additional charges in connection with this case could be filed at a later time.

“It’s been a long time,” the victims’ father, John Lyon, said in court. “We’re tired and we just want to go home.”


Featured Image: Delaware State Police/Montgomery County Police