Katherine Mary Lyon

1 2 AP
Left and Center: Katherine, circa 1975;
Right: Age-progression to age 45 (circa 2009)

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: March 25, 1975 from Wheaton, Maryland
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Date Of Birth: March 29, 1964
  • Age: 10 years old
  • Height and Weight: 4'8, 85 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Katherine has a birthmark on the inside of her upper thigh. Her nickname is Kate. Her name may be spelled "Kathryn."
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A red jacket and Wrangler blue jeans with a front zipper.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Katherine departed from her family's residence on Plyers Mill Road in Kensington, Maryland on March 25, 1975 with her older sister Sheila Lyon between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. The girls were walking to the Wheaton Plaza Shopping Center in Wheaton, Maryland, which was approximately one-half mile from their home and located on the corner of University Boulevard and Veirs Mills Road. It was the first day of Easter vacation from school and Katherine and Sheila wanted to see the Easter exhibits at the mall, as well as have a pizza lunch at The Orange Bowl Restaurant.

    + A neighborhood child saw the girls outside the restaurant at approximately 1:00 p.m. He told investigators that the sisters were speaking to an unidentified middle-aged man, 50 to 60 years old, who was wearing a brown suit. The man was carrying a briefcase with a tape recorder inside; there were also other children around who were speaking into a microphone he was holding.

    Two composite sketches of the man were created, and several individuals recognized him; they reported seeing him at the Marlow Heights Shopping Center and the Iverson Mall both in Prince George's County, Maryland. He approached several young girls and asked them to read read an answering machine message typed on an index card into his hand held-microphone. He has never been identified. Later, investigators concluded the individual had not been involved in the girls' disappearances.

    The girls' fifteen-year-old brother saw them inside The Orange Bowl Restaurant eating pizza together at approximately 2:00 p.m. the day they vanished. A friend stated that the girls were walking westward down Drumm Avenue near Devon Street between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. This would have been one of the most direct routes to their home on Plyers Mill Road from the mall and was the final confirmed sighting of the sisters. Their mother had instructed Sheila and Katherine to return to the residence by 4:00 p.m. When they did not arrive by 7:00 p.m. authorities were summoned and an extensive search was conducted. No evidence of the Lyon sisters' whereabouts could be located.

    Several extortion-type phone calls were made to the Lyons family in the weeks following the girls' disappearances. The most serious call came from an unidentified male on April 4, 1975. The individual demanded that their father leave a briefcase with $10,000 inside an Annapolis, Maryland courthouse restroom. The money was left as per the instructions but was never claimed. The caller later maintained that police had surrounded the courthouse and he could not retrieve the ransom. Before the money would be offered to the man again, he was required to show evidence of the Lyon sisters in his custody. The caller said he would be in touch with the family, but never called back.

    A witness in Manassas, Virginia reported seeing two girls resembling Sheila and Katherine in the rear of a beige 1968 Ford station wagon on April 7, 1975. The witness stated that the girls were observed bound and gagged in the vehicle at approximately 7:30 a.m. that day. The driver of the station wagon resembled the man seen questioning children at The Orange Bowl Restaurant the day the sisters vanished. When the driver spotted the witness tailing him, he ran a red light and sped west on Route 234 towards Interstate 66 in Virginia. The station wagon had Maryland license plates with the possible combination "DMT-6**." The last two numbers are unknown due to the bending of the car's plate. The known combination was issued in Cumberland, Hagerstown and Baltimore, Maryland at the time. A search for matching plate numbers failed to produce any information. This witness's report was at first treated as credible, but was later deemed "questionable" by police.

    Fred Howard Coffey Jr. was viewed as a possible suspect in the sisters' cases. Coffey is serving a life sentence in a North Carolina prison for murder and child molestation. Authorities learned that he began working at a scientific firm in Silver Spring, Maryland one month after the Lyons sisters vanished. Investigators have been unable to determine if Coffey is connected to the cases and he has never been charged in their disappearances.

    Investigators also considered Raymond Rudolph Mileski Sr. another possible suspect in the girls' disappearances. Mileski resided in the 5800 block of Suitland Road in Suitland, Maryland in 1975. He murdered his wife and teenage son and wounded his younger son inside their home after a disagreement in November 1977. He was convicted of the homicides in 1978 and sentenced to 40 years in prison. Authorities searched the yard of his former residence in April 1982 for material connected to the Lyon sisters' cases, but no evidence was discovered.

    In 2014, authorities named Lloyd Lee Welch Jr. as the prime suspect in the sisters' cases. Welch, who is also known as Michael Lee Welch, has a record numerous criminal offenses, includkng sex offenses against young girls in South Carolina, Virginia and Delaware. Since 1997 he's been serving a 30-year sentence in a Delaware prison. Welch traveled throughout the United States from the 1970s to the 1990s and worked for a traveling carnival. He was at the Wheaton Plaza Shopping Center the day Katherine and Sheila went missing, and was observed watching them. Photos of Welch are posted below this case summary. He has not been charged in Sheila and Katherine's cases due to lack of evidence.

    There was some speculation that the Lyon girls' cases might be connected to the 1976 disappearance of Dorothy Scofield, but no evidence linking the cases was uncovered and all three children's disappearances remain unsolved.

    Welch 1977 Welch 2014
    Left: Lee Welch in 1977;
    Right: Lee Welch, circa 2014

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Montgomery County Police Department
    240-773-5070

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    Source Information
    The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children
    America's Most Missing Persons
    The Prince William Daily Journal
    The Washington Post
    NewspaperArchive
    Richard Bergren
    The Doe Network
    NBC Washington
    WJLA 7
    The New York Daily News
    USA Today

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    Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated February 22, 2014; picture added, details of disappearance updated.

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