For the last few months the blog has taken a back seat to a book I’m researching and writing on the Golden State Killer. I’m working on securing some guest posters that will provide good stories in the near future. I hope to continue to post here as well.
In the meantime, I did want to call attention to some important recent stories. The break in the case of the missing Lyon sisters is amazing; another example that time --- in this case 39 years --- doesn’t have to mark a case as unsolvable. Sheila Lyon, 12, and her sister Katherine, 10, vanished on March 25, 1975 after visiting a shopping mall near their family’s home in Kensington, Maryland.
Yesterday Montgomery County authorities called a press conference and announced they have a person of interest, 57-year-old Lloyd Lee Welch Jr., aka Michael Welch, a convicted sex offender in prison since 1997 on a rape conviction. Police say he was noticed at the mall paying attention to the sisters the day they vanished. In retrospect the case may have been stymied early on by misdirection. A witness reported seeing a well-dressed, middle-aged man with a briefcase that had a tape recorder in it talking to the sisters, and other children were seen talking into a microphone the man had. Authorities released composite sketches of the suspect, and seemed to consider him their prime suspect.
Police said Welch is not the tape recorder man. They’re hoping the public can help them fill in Welch’s background. He was a drifter and hitchhiker, and worked as a landscaper and for a carnival company that often set up at malls. Authorities released a timeline including dozens of locations, from California to South Carolina, where Welch is believed to have visited from the mid-‘70s to 1997. His girlfriend, Helen Craver (now deceased), often accompanied by him, and investigators are seeking information on her as well.
The first case that came to my mind was the three girls (Lisa Renee Wilson, Rachel Trlica, and Julie Ann Moseley) that disappeared from a Fort Worth shopping mall on December 23, 1974. Welch’s timeline shows he was in Austin, Texas in January 1974.
I also wondered about Misty Copsey, who disappeared after attending a fair in Puyallup, Washington on September 17, 1992.
The relatively new law enforcement strategy of releasing to the public detailed timelines about offenders they seek information about (Israel Keyes, Welch) is a terrific one, especially when considering how transient the suspects were. Many other cases can now potentially be solved.
Finally, I’ve read a couple of great true crime stories recently, and wanted to recommend them. One is about the murder of a German sailor, and the other concerns new, troubling details behind the Jeff Davis 8 case, the unsolved murders of 8 women in southwestern Louisiana.