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& HEARTSTRING THEORY The Gazette Versatile performer views love on a scientific plane. B-5 POTOMAC | NORTH POTOMAC DAILY UPDATES ONLINE Wednesday, February 12, 2014 Potomac man challenges pit bull decision ‘The problem is irresponsible ownership, not the dog,’ he says n 25 cents a new lead Cold case has CHIEF IDENTIFIES CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER WHO MAY HAVE HAD CONTACT WITH LYON SISTERS, MISSING SINCE 1975 Sheila (left) and Katherine Lyon of Kensington went missing in 1975 from Wheaton Plaza. BY KIRSTEN PETERSEN SPECIAL TO THE GAZETTE When his owner calls, Rocco follows. The owner — Potomac resident Eric “Rick” Bernthal — beckoned his dog to join him in his sunlit sitting room early Friday morning and the chocolate-colored canine climbed into his lap without hesitation. A 3-year-old rescue dog from the Washington Humane Society, Rocco has had four leg surgeries in his short life and has only just begun to roam his home like a normal dog. Rocco is a pit bull, one of thousands in Maryland that could be separated from their owners if they were accused of biting, regardless of whether they had previously exhibited dangerous behavior. See PIT BULL, Page A-10 DAN GROSS/THE GAZETTE Rick Bernthal of Potomac, chairman of the Humane Society of the United States board, gets a kiss from his 3-year-old rescue pit bull, Rocco. DAN GROSS/THE GAZETTE At a news conference Tuesday in Rockville, Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger points to a police mug shot of Lloyd Lee Welch, who police think is involved in the disappearance of the Lyon sisters in 1975. At left is Steve Vogt, a special agent with the FBI. Ledecky breaks record at Metros BY ‘These things don’t happen, we thought, in Montgomery County’ STAFF WRITER Stone Ridge junior becomes first woman to swim 500-yard freestyle in less than 4 minutes, 30 seconds n BY JENNIFER BEEKMAN STAFF WRITER The few minutes between the end of warmups and the start of a swimming championship is usually a time when swimmers focus inward, get themselves in the right frame of mind for the upcoming competition. Katie Ledecky, a junior at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, spent those moments at Saturday’s Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming and Diving championships signing autographs for, and taking pictures with, young fans who approached her on the Germantown Indoor Swim center pool deck. The 2012 Olympic gold medalist didn’t even turn away admirers that hoarded around her on occasion in between her events — ultimately Stone Ridge coach Robert Walker escorted them away until after the meet — and when everything ST. JOHN BARNED-SMITH Montgomery County police are hoping to find out more about Lloyd Lee Welch, a convicted sex offender, and his possible connection to the disappearance of Sheila and Katherine Lyon almost 39 years ago from Wheaton Plaza. Police say they have confirmed he was at the mall the day the girls disappeared. See LEDECKY, Page A-10 Police shed new light on an almost 39-year-old missing person case Tuesday when they identified a convicted sex offender they believe may have had contact with two Kensington girls the day they disappeared. The girls, Sheila and Katherine Lyon, ages 12 and 10, walked to Wheaton Plaza, as it was known at the time, for lunch on March 25, 1975, and vanished. At a press conference Tuesday, Montgomery County police identified 57-year-old Lloyd Lee Welch, a convicted sex offender, and said they have confirmed he was at the mall the day the girls disappeared. Investigators have traveled to Delaware, where Welch is serving a prison sentence for raping young girls, to talk to him, Assistant Police Chief Russell Hamill said. Chief J. Thomas Manger declined to comment on how those interviews have gone and what police have learned in them. Welch has served jail time for SPORTS A TWEET LASTS FOREVER Social media is here to stay as a part of high school students’ lives, for better or worse. B-1 Automotive Business Calendar Classified Entertainment Opinion School News Sports Please 1975 case in which two girls disappeared shattered sense of safety n AND BY SARAH SCULLY ST. JOHN BARNED-SMITH STAFF WRITERS The story of a disappearance almost 39 years ago has haunted Montgomery County, resurfacing periodically with remembrances or potential leads to a still unsolved crime. Two young girls walking a half-mile to Wheaton Plaza were never seen again. On March 25, 1975, the Lyon sisters went to the mall for pizza and window shopping. They vanished, shattering a sense See SAFETY, Page A-10 multiple convictions of sexual offenses and raping young girls in Virginia, South Carolina and Delaware, Manger said. He has not been charged in connection with the Lyons’ case. “If we were able to charge someone, we would have done it,” Manger said. According to police, witnesses from that day told investigators they saw Welch “paying See LEAD, Page A-10 B-13 A-11 A-2 B-10 B-5 A-14 A-12 B-1 RECYCLE Check out our Services Directory ADVERTISING INSIDE B SECTION 1906243

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