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Police say they're close to finding remains of Maryland girls missing since 1975

Police say they're close to finding remains of Maryland girls missing since 1975
Police believe they are close to discovering the remains of Sheila Lyon, 12, and Katherine Lyon, 10, who disappeared from Wheaton, Md., in 1975. Two men have been identified as persons of interest in the case. (Associated Press)

Maryland police say they are close to locating the remains of two girls who vanished from a Washington, D.C., suburb nearly 40 years ago, and have named a second man as a person of interest in their disappearance.

Russ Hamill, assistant chief of the Montgomery County Police Department, said Thursday that he believes the remains of Katherine Lyon, 12, and Sheila Lyon, 10, are somewhere on Taylor Mountain in Virginia.

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Officer Levon Elian, a spokesman for the department, told the Los Angeles Times that the girls disappeared from Wheaton in 1975, and police turned their attention to Lloyd Lee Welch, who was 19 at the time. Welch's uncle, Richard Allen Welch Sr., is now a second person of interest in the disappearances, Elian said

Lloyd Welch, identified as a person of interest shortly after the disappearance, worked in Wheaton, Elian said. He also has relatives who reside in Bedford County, Va., where police are searching for the girls' remains.

Police are using ground-penetrating radar and other means to scour the rocky terrain. But the mountainous area, as well as the presence of rattlesnakes and other wildlife, has made the search difficult, Elian said.

Lloyd Welch is in prison in Delaware and is not scheduled to be released until 2026, according to public records. Elian did not say what Welch had been convicted of, and a Delaware corrections department spokesperson declined to say when Welch was arrested or why.

But according to an agenda for an August meeting of the state Board of Pardons, Welch was convicted of unlawful sexual intercourse and unlawful sexual contact. Welch was seeking a commutation of his sentence, according to the document, which did not disclose when Welch was convicted or what the result of his hearing was.

It was not immediately clear if either man had cooperated with police, or whether the uncle was in custody.

The case, which long cast a pall over Wheaton, a town of 50,000 just 11 miles outside Washington, was reopened by the Montgomery County Police Department's cold case unit late last year, Elian said.

The Virginia State Police, Bedford County Sheriff's Office and the FBI have all become involved, he said.

Though criminal charges have not been filed, the Bedford County prosecutor's office will convene an investigative grand jury Friday, Elian said.

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