Miss­ing sis­ters draw un­wanted at­ten­tion to re­mote moun­tain

The Mercury News - - Other Views - By Denise Lavoie

The dis­ap­pear­ance of two young Mary­land sis­ters shook the sub­urbs of Wash­ing­ton, and re­mained an ag­o­niz­ing mystery for more than four decades.

Now an­other re­gion 250 miles away is linked to the crime. Au­thor­i­ties said con­victed sex of­fender Lloyd Lee Welch Jr. burned at least one of the sis­ters’ bod­ies in a fire on his cousins’ prop­erty on Tay­lors Moun­tain, in west-cen­tral Vir­ginia.

Fol­low­ing Welch’s guilty plea this week, the peo­ple of Tay­lors Moun­tain are hop­ing to put an end to any as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween their home and the slay­ings of 10-year-old Kather­ine and 12-year-old Sheila Lyon. The sis­ters van­ished in 1975 af­ter walk­ing to a shop­ping mall near their home in Kens­ing­ton, Mary­land.

“All of us feel like he stained all of our rep­u­ta­tions. We had noth­ing to do with it. It’s some­thing we’d rather have not had hap­pen here. We wouldn’t want to see it hap­pen any­where,” said Danny John­son, who runs an ap­ple or­chard and win­ery on the moun­tain.

Tay­lors Moun­tain is perched in the Blue Ridge Moun­tains, north of U.S. Route 460, be­tween Bed­ford and Roanoke.

A 1924 ar­ti­cle in The Wash­ing­ton Post de­scribes a con­fronta­tion when of­fi­cers went up the moun­tain to shut down a still dur­ing Pro­hi­bi­tion. Sev­eral res­i­dents warned them not to go any far­ther. When they con­tin­ued up the moun­tain any­way, shots were fired at them from sev­eral di­rec­tions. No one was hurt, but the of­fi­cers “made a hasty re­treat,” ac­cord­ing to the ar­ti­cle.

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