Share this story...
Latest News

The Latest: Parents of girls slain in 1975 thank police

John Lyon hugs his wife, Mary, right, after a plea by Lloyd Lee Welch Jr., for the killings of their daughters Sheila and Katherine Lyon in 1975, in Bedford County Circuit Court in Bedford, Va., Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. Welch plead guilty to two first degree murder charges and was sentenced to two consecutive 48 year terms. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

BEDFORD, Va. (AP) — The Latest on a sex offender accused in the abduction and killing of two sisters in Maryland in 1975 (all times local):

11:30 a.m.

The parents of two young Maryland sisters who disappeared in 1975 have expressed their gratitude to investigators after a convicted sex offender pleaded guilty in their long-unsolved killings.

John and Mary Lyon thanked authorities in Maryland and Virginia Tuesday after Lloyd Lee Welch Jr. pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree felony murder in the deaths of 10-year-old Katherine and 12-year-old Sheila Lyon. The two girls vanished after walking from their home to a local shopping mall on March 25, 1975.

The girls’ disappearance haunted people who lived in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., for decades.

Welch was charged in 2015 after cold case detectives noticed a striking similarity between a sketch in the case file and a mugshot of Welch from the late 1970s.

He was sentenced to 48 years in prison Tuesday as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors that also calls for him to plead guilty to two unrelated sexual assaults in northern Virginia. Under the plea agreement, he will receive a 12-year concurrent sentence for those crimes.

___

9:45 a.m.

A 60-year old convicted sex offender has been sentenced to 48 years in prison in the killing of two young sisters who disappeared from a Maryland shopping mall more than 40 years ago.

Lloyd Lee Welch Jr. pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of first-degree felony murder in the 1975 killings of 12-year-old Shelia and 10-year-old Katherine Lyons. He was sentenced during the same hearing. Welch also received a 12-year sentence in two unrelated sexual assault cases in Prince William County in Virginia.

The Lyons sisters vanished on March 25, 1975, after walking to Wheaton Plaza, near their home in Kensington, Maryland.

A massive search yielded few clues. It took authorities nearly four decades to focus on Welch. By then, he had accumulated a long criminal history and was serving a prison sentence in Delaware for sexually molesting a 10-year-old girl.

___

9:15 a.m.

A convicted sex offender has pleaded guilty in the killings of two young sisters who disappeared from a Maryland shopping mall more than 40 years ago.

Lloyd Lee Welch Jr. pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of first-degree felony murder in the 1975 killings of 12-year-old Shelia and 10-year-old Katherine Lyons. The 60-year-old’s admission of guilt ends a decades-old mystery that has haunted the suburbs of Washington.

The girls vanished on March 25, 1975, after walking to Wheaton Plaza, a shopping center near their home in Kensington, Maryland.

A massive search yielded few clues. It took authorities nearly four decades to focus on Welch. By then, he had accumulated a long criminal history and was serving a prison sentence in Delaware for sexually molesting a 10-year-old girl.

___

1:20 a.m.

A man charged with killing two young sisters from Maryland is expected to plead guilty more than four decades after the girls vanished during a trip to a local shopping mall.

Lloyd Lee Welch Jr. is scheduled to appear in a Virginia court Tuesday. Welch is accused of snatching 12-year-old Sheila Lyon and 10-year-old Katherine Lyon in March 1975. Authorities believe he burned the girls’ bodies on a remote mountain in Bedford County, Virginia. They were never recovered.

It’s not known if prosecutors agreed not to pursue the death penalty in exchange for Welch’s guilty pleas.

Welch was scheduled to go on trial Tuesday, but his trial request was withdrawn last week. The Washington Post reported that Welch plans to plead guilty in an agreement that will also resolve two unrelated sexual assault cases against him.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.