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Station wagon sought in 1975 missing sisters cold case

Sheila Lyon, left, and Katherine Lyon, right

WUSA9

BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. -- Investigators in the case of two long-missing Maryland sisters are asking the public to come forward with any information about a late 1960's or 1970's model station wagon seen shortly after the girls' 1975 abduction, according the Bedford County, Va. Sheriff's office.

Sheila Lyon, 12, and her sister Katherine, 10, were last seen walking to the Wheaton Plaza mall in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Wheaton, Md., from their home in nearby Kensington in 1975. They were never seen again.

1welch2.jpg
Richard Allen Welch, Sr., left, and Lloyd Lee Welch, Jr., right
WDBJ

Two persons of interest - Delaware inmate Lloyd Lee Welch, Jr., and his uncle Richard Allen Welch Sr., -- were announced in the case this year. Police said Welch, Jr. was seen at the mall that day, and Welch, Sr. was a security guard in the Wheaton area when the girls disappeared.

Welch Sr. is also believed to own or have owned property on Taylor Mountain in Bedford County, Va., which has been the subject of searches in recent months. The remote area between Roanoke and Lynchburg is more than 230 miles southwest of where the young sisters vanished.

According to a Bedford County, Va. Sheriff's office statement, the station wagon was seen in Bedford County shortly after the girls' abduction.

Early in the Lyon sisters investigation, a tipster in Manassas, Virginia reported seeing two girls resembling the sisters in the rear of a beige 1968 Ford station wagon, reports CBS affiliate WDBJ. The station wagon had Maryland license plates with the possible combination "DMT-6**".

Manassas is located along Interstate 66, a route connecting Southern Virginia with the Washington, D.C. area.

Welch, Sr. was pictured standing next to a station wagon in a photograph released to reporters last month, according to the station.

"This vehicle may have been hidden in, or removed from, a barn, shed or outbuilding," the statement read. "The public is asked to report any suspicious vehicles that they believe might assist law enforcement in furthering this investigation."

The investigation is a joint effort between officials in Montgomery County, Maryland and Bedford, Virginia. A special grand jury impaneled by the Bedford County Commonwealth's Attorney's office has been hearing evidence and testimony in the case.

At a press conference last month, Montgomery County police assistant chief Russ Hamill said he believes there is a "good chance" the girls are on the mountain.

Witnesses placed Lloyd Lee Welch, Jr. at the mall and said he was playing close attention to the girls, reports WUSA. In 1998, the 57-year-old Welch Jr. pleaded guilty to unrelated sex offenses in Delaware, where he is serving time, reported the Washington Post. He has reportedly denied any involvement in the sisters' disappearances.

Richard Allen Welch Sr., is believed to be over 70 years old. Hamill said last month he's still alive and police know where he is, though he wouldn't comment on his location.

Anyone with information is asked to call 540-586-7827.

  • Erin Donaghue

    Erin Donaghue covers crime for CBSNews.com's Crimesider.