The Delaware prisoner facing murder charges in connection with a mysterious 40-year-old cold case is expected to be brought to Bedford County for a trial in the next two months, authorities said at a press conference Thursday.
Lloyd Lee “Michael” Welch Jr., 58, was indicted Friday by a Bedford County grand jury on two counts of first degree felony murder stemming from the disappearance of two Maryland girls in 1975. The indictments were unsealed Wednesday.
Authorities wrote in recently unsealed search-warrant applications they believe Welch, who has family ties on Taylors Mountain in Bedford County, visited the area in March 1975 to dispose of the bodies of Sheila and Katherine Lyon.
The 12- and 10-year-old Lyon sisters went to a mall in Wheaton, Maryland, on March 25, 1975, and didn’t return home. Their bodies were never found.
Authorities from Montgomery County, Maryland, and Bedford County announced Welch’s indictment at a press conference in Wheaton Wednesday and gave a more detailed picture of the case Thursday.
Bedford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Randy Krantz said that Thursday morning he started the process of extraditing Welch from Delaware, where he is serving a lengthy sentence for child-sex crimes.
“Because that Mr. Welch is an inmate of a Delaware state prison, we have to through the process of having him transported and turned over to Bedford County authorities. This morning, prior to coming here, I submitted the initial documents entering them into the system so that what we call ‘detainers’ may be filed against him in Delaware,” Krantz said.
He estimates it will take between 30 and 60 days for Welch to arrive in Bedford County, where he’ll face a trial. No trial date has been set.
Bedford County Sheriff Michael Brown said Welch’s indictment is a significant milestone for the case, which has gone decades without any substantial leads.
“They were killed in order for their captors to escape detection. The motive for the abduction of the Lyon sisters was to sexually exploit, abuse and defile them,” Brown said.
He and other authorities noted the investigation is ongoing, and warned against withholding information from officials.
“As we go forward in preparing for the trial of Lloyd Welch, the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office will also continue to focus its investigative efforts on identifying and bringing to justice those individuals that added or assisted in this horrible crime,” Brown said.
Montgomery County Police Capt. Darren Franke urged anyone with information about the girls to examine their conscience.
“Our message is very very simple, and it’s to the whole community: We will be relentless in finding the facts of this case. If you have information, if you’re a Welch, if you’re a citizen of Bedford County, if you’re a citizen of Montgomery County, we want to hear from you,” Franke said.
Anyone with information about the case is urged to call the Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce at (434) 534-9521, or email the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Original Article: Lynchburg News & Advance