HYATTSVILLE, Md. — A cousin of the man charged with the 1975 murders of Sheila and Katherine Lyon believes that investigators should be focusing on family members who live in rural Virginia where police believe the two sisters were taken and killed, and who might know more about what happened to the girls.
“I just think it’s a real big cover-up in Bedford,” Patricia Ann Welch, 49, told WTOP and NBC Washington, in a joint interview. “It may have started here in Montgomery County, but it ended up there.”
A year ago, Lloyd Lee Welch, Jr. was indicted in Bedford County, Virginia, on two counts of first degree felony murder for the deaths of Sheila, 12, and her sister Katherine, 10, Lyon. A few months before his trial is set to begin, his cousin Patricia Ann Welch spoke about the toll the ongoing investigation has taken on her family and she stressed that her own father, Richard Welch, was not responsible for the girls’ deaths.
In an interview in Magruder Park, where her family has held get-togethers over the years, Patricia Ann Welch, 49, said that she has been cooperating with investigators and that she and her Maryland branch of the Welch family has nothing to hide.
Investigators have said repeatedly that they believe that more than one person was involved in the girls’ disappearance and deaths, and that the members of the extended Welch family know what happened. Several members of the family have been charged with obstruction or with lying to a special grand jury that was convened almost two years ago to help police and prosecutors as they continue to investigate.
Patricia Ann Welch is the daughter of Richard Welch, who police have called a person of interest in the Lyon case. He has not been charged in the case. But her mother, Patricia Jean Welch, has been indicted on a charge of perjury after her testimony before the multi-jurisdictional grand jury.
Sheila and Katherine Lyon vanished after walking to Wheaton Plaza mall to look at Easter decorations. For almost 40 years, police searched in vain for answers about what happened to the girls.
Authorities now believe the girls were sexually abused, killed, and burned on Taylor Mountain, in Thaxton, Virginia.
Police had questioned Lloyd Lee Welch soon after the Lyon sisters’ disappearance, but eventually believed he was not responsible. In 2013, after rereading a statement he provided in 1975, police decided to reinterview Welch, a convicted sex offender.
During interviews with Montgomery County detectives, Lloyd Welch implicated his uncle, Richard Welch, in the girls’ disappearance.
Lloyd Welch has acknowledged leaving the mall with the Lyon sisters, Richard Welch, and a cousin named Thomas. They drove together to Richard Welch’s house in Hyattsville, according to Lloyd Lee Welch.
According to a search warrant affidavit, “The next day Lloyd went back to the residence and witnessed Richard Welch engaging in sexual activity with one of the Lyon sisters in a room in the basement. He further explained the room in the basement was kept secure with a lock and could only be accessed by Dick Welch.”
“For anybody to say them kids were in that house? I was 8 years old. I would have known,” Patricia Ann Welch said, recalling the home where she grew up and where the Lyon sisters were allegedly taken.
Patricia Ann Welch said she talks with Montgomery County detectives “once or twice a month,” providing information in hopes of clearing her father’s name.
Approximately one year ago, in announcing Lloyd Welch’s indictments, Montgomery County police and prosecutors, as well as Bedford authorities said Welch family members have been trying to thwart police.
“There are people that are throwing us roadblocks constantly that are trying to lead us in other directions,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy in July 2015.
Patricia Ann Welch said her father told her he is innocent, and she believes him.
“My dad worked hard, he came home, he took care of his kids, and he helped other people’s families,” said Welch.
Welch said she has testified three times before the special grand jury in Bedford County, and that her father has testified once.
Based on her knowledge of her cousin, and information in charging documents, Patricia Welch is convinced of her cousin’s guilt: “Yes, he did it, I think he did it 100 percent.”
“Lloyd has done it to other people, that’s what he’s in jail for. Lloyd has molested other kids, OK,” Patricia Ann Welch said. “I think he’s implicating my dad because he’s the only one left alive,” she said.
Patricia Ann Welch said her parents were aware she would be speaking to WTOP and NBC Washington, about what she believes is an unfair amount of scrutiny of her Maryland relatives.
She wondered why Bedford County residents who now are testifying about what they witnessed decades ago haven’t been arrested.
Welch named several extended family members who live in the Bedford County area, and alleges some have lied to the grand jury.
“If there was a conspiracy, the conspiracy was back in ’75, when the people who were alive said ‘they’re coming up the mountain with girls’ — that would be the conspiracy,” Welch said.
Contacted by WTOP, Wes Nance, acting Commonwealth’s attorney for Bedford County, declined to address Patricia Ann Welch’s allegations.
“Unfortunately, I don’t believe I can comment,” Nance wrote, in an email. “There is a gag order in place in the case of Commonwealth of Virginia vs. Lloyd Welch and it is so factually entwined I cannot make any statement or response at this time.”
Representatives of the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office and police department chose not to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
Watch NBC 4’s report:
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