Welch pleads guilty in ’96 Pr. William Co. sexual assaults, apologizes

WASHINGTON — Lloyd Lee Welch pleaded guilty Thursday to a series of 1996 sex crimes against two young girls in Prince William County, Virginia, as part of a plea deal reached during negotiations in the Lyon sisters’ murder case.

And he offered an apology to his victims.

Last Tuesday, Welch pleaded guilty in Bedford County, Virginia, to the 1975 murders of 12-year-old Sheila Lyon and 10-year-old Katherine Lyon, who were last seen at Wheaton Plaza in Maryland.

One of the Prince William County victims played a key role in the investigators’ ability to identify Welch in connection with the murders of the Lyon sisters.

Welch was convicted and sentenced to 29 years for attacking the young girl while she lived in Delaware.

Montgomery County detectives interviewed Welch 13 times as he served the Delaware sentence, gathering evidence that was crucial in gaining the leverage that led to his guilty plea.

Thursday, the young woman, now 30, sat in the witness box, eight feet from Welch, who was seated at the defense table.

“I’ve waited 20 long years to face my abuser,” she said, as Welch looked down at the table.

She described feeling “damaged beyond repair” and “suicidal” over the years, in the years since Welch baby-sat the girl, while her mother was at work.

The woman detailed her painful transition from self-loathing teen to becoming an accomplished adult and mother.

“I’m no longer that scared child, hiding,” she said. “Checkmate — I win.”

The other victim said Welch’s attack impacts her to this day.

“I did nothing to him to have him do this to me,” she said. “He is a piece of crap — literally, the dirt I walk on.”

She described feeling unable to trust men because of Welch.

“This man has taken literally everything from me,” she said. “Today, I’m taking it back.”

Before sentencing, Circuit Judge Carroll Weimer, Jr. asked Welch if he had anything to say.

“I’d like to apologize to these two young ladies,” Welch said. “I didn’t mean to do any harm to them — I’m very sorry.”

WTOP and most news organizations typically don’t identify victims of sexual abuse.

Last Tuesday, Welch was sentenced to 48 years in prison for the murders of the Lyon sisters as part of a global plea agreement with prosecutors.

“These crimes were heinous,” said Prince William County prosecutor Paul Ebert. “People have to realize that sexual assault of a young person has everlasting effects — the girls said it better than I could.”

As part of the global plea announced in Bedford County Circuit Court, Welch’s attorneys said he would plead guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual battery and be sentenced to 12 years in prison. The Prince William sentence is concurrent to his murder sentence.

Welch, 60, could be eligible for parole when he’s in his mid- 80s.

“It would be mind-boggling for me that any parole board would ever even consider him for parole,” Ebert said. “He’s a dangerous pedophile, and as a result I don’t think anyone will ever see him on the street again.”

Welch was indicted on a series of charges for the Prince William County assaults that included rape, aggravated sexual battery and indecent liberties with a child by a person in custodial or supervisory relationship.

The Prince William County attacks occurred more than 20 years after the Lyon sisters were last seen in Montgomery County.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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