Missing sisters draw unwanted attention to remote mountain
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.