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Published:February 13th, 2014 11:30 EST
Was Roving Carnival Ride Operator Lloyd Lee Welch a Serial Killer Back in the 1970s?

Was Roving Carnival Ride Operator Lloyd Lee Welch a Serial Killer Back in the 1970s?

By John G. Kays

I paid careful attention when watching KXAN News (an NBC Austin affiliate) last night, once they featured a story on a missing persons` case, dating back to the Spring of 1975. Sheila and Katherine Lyon were heading up to the Wheaton Plaza Shopping Center, which was about a half-mile from their home, on Plyers Mill Road (in Kensington, MD); the date was March 25, 1975 (the time was between 11 AM and 12 PM), which was an Easter holiday for the sisters (12-years-old and 10, respectfully)

To state it simply, the girls just wanted to check out the mall, which had an Easter exhibit of some kind, and to lunch on some pizza at the Orange Bowl Restaurant; nothing too out of the ordinary.

Without filling in more details for you, regarding what happened to Sheila and Katherine at the Wheaton Plaza Mall that day (since I don`t know exactly what occurred), I need not fail to mention, they never returned home that evening (their mom required them to be back by 4PM)

Well, and you may be aware of this by now, but Montgomery County, MD cold case detectives have identified a strong lead (39 years afterwards), a good suspect (a person of interest, if you require political correctness), I might add, by way of an incarcerated individual (in Delaware); his name is Lloyd Lee Welch.

When looking at some of the photos of Lloyd Lee, I observed a very scary looking fellow, with beady eyes and a bulbous crooked nose! My first thoughts took me back in time to Henry Lee Lucas (not a place I wished to return to, if you want to know the truth). I tried to brush it off, but I kept remembering Henry Lee was a drifter also, who looked for victims where ever he found himself. 

Apart from Welch`s spooky physical demeanor, we also are learning his occupation at the time these girls went missing, was that of a roving carnival ride operator (a landscaper as well), that placed him in many cities of our country over a protracted span of time. 

Well, I don`t know about you, but the bizarre, brief bio of this character Welch, including his chosen trade, set my mind in motion, imagining him traveling from town to town, operating these rides (in tiny carnivals, who pitched their tents who knows where?), and then doing other things, which I need not mention now. It may be, I`m not that far removed from what really occurred.

I base that statement on the FBI report (which was linked on a very thorough Washington Post article), which I went to a lot of trouble in printing out, so that I could inspect it with care. The FBI posting has an interesting listing (a timeline) of most of the many cities Welch visited (possibly living in temporarily), over the course of 23 years (from 1974-1997). 

You`ll want to study his itinerary with some care; it looks as if his stay in South Carolina was his longest. Naturally, the police in those areas will need to comb back through their files (of missing girls), with a time period in mind of January 1988-May 1994, when Lloyd Lee drifted around those parts.

KXAN pointed out, Welch was in Austin on January 9, 1974, even before Sheila Lyon and Katherine Lyon went missing (14 months earlier) from the Washington D.C. vicinity. Of course, we`d like to know how they know that this character Welch was here in Austin at that time. Obviously, and I`m speculating, but I figure one of those small roving carnivals must have passed through here. 

I remember clearly (from the mid-`70s), a good many of those little carnivals passing through. Furthermore, KXAN has told us about three girls who did go missing from this same time period. I didn`t get their names or any details about their particular cases, but I will post photos of three here with my piece.

Hopefully, KXAN will expand coverage of these three missing girls, and this may shed more light on a possible connection to Lloyd Lee Welch (or it may not, who knows?). In the meantime, I`m taking a little closer look at the Lyon sisters case, which was somewhat lacking in detail from reading The Washington Post (although their articles were quite good). 

However, I found a Project Jason piece that gives you quite a bit more information; several significant details are included in this posting that suggest another older man may have been responsible (a man with a briefcase containing a microphone and possibly a tape recorder inside). How were detectives able to eliminate this older man and to focus more on Welch as their suspect? It`s still early, but I have lots of questions for them!