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& HEARTSTRING THEORY The Gazette Versatile performer views love on a scientific plane. B-5 SILVER SPRING | TAKOMA PARK | BURTONSVILLE DAILY UPDATES ONLINE Wednesday, February 12, 2014 When will the curtain rise again for the Old Blair Auditorium? n Silver Spring building sits deteriorating for more than 10 years BY 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 went missing almost 39 years ago in 1975. ALINE BARROS STAFF WRITER It’s like a horror movie. Shoes and clothes left from a final performance are strewn about the dressing rooms. Mold has crept over the auditorium seats, stage curtains, and in the bathrooms. A rat lay dead at the women’s dressing room entrance, and parts of the ceiling have fallen down from water leaks. Once a thriving theater, the Old Blair auditorium now remains silent and abandoned — idle for the past 10 years since Montgomery Blair High School moved to a new location. But despite its disrepair, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett did not include funds for design of the auditorium’s renovation in his Fiscal Year 2015-2020 Capital Improvements Program budget recommendation, which finances construction projects such as schools, roads and infrastructure. And for the project advocates, that meant “killing” any chances to have the space open again. But on Tuesday, Montgomery County spokesperson Patrick Lacefield said the county found $600,000 left over from completed capital projects to put toward the project. That amount is needed to match $600,000 in state funds that was awarded in 2005 to the Old Blair Auditorium Project Inc., a nonprofit group that has lead the efforts to renovate the facility. The group has to have matching funds by May to See BLAIR, Page A-10 Ledecky sets record at Metros n DAN GROSS/THE GAZETTE Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger (center) points to a police mug shot of Lloyd Lee Welch, someone whom police believe may have been in contact with the Lyon sisters before they disappeared in 1975. At left is FBI Special Agent Steve Vogt. BY ‘These things don’t happen, we thought, in Montgomery County’ STAFF WRITER Stone Ridge junior became first woman to break 4:30 in 500-yard freestyle BY JENNIFER BEEKMAN STAFF WRITER A day after breaking the American 500-yard freestyle record, Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart swimmer Katie Ledecky spent time with fans at Saturday’s Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming and Diving championship. She signed autographs and posed for pictures on the Germantown Indoor Swim Center pool deck. Admirers crowded around the 2012 Olympic gold medalist between events. Ledecky, a junior, won three of four events she contested Saturday — she also anchored the second-place 400-yard freestyle relay — setting a Metros and national high school record in the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 42.38 seconds). Stone Ridge in turn repeated last year’s first top 5 performance in a decade. In Friday’s 500-yard freestyle preliminaries, Ledecky broke a six-year American record, becoming the first woman to break the 4:30 barrier (4:28.71). Ledecky also holds American records in the 400and 800-meter and 1,650-yard freestyle and world records in the 800- and 1,500-meter freestyle. 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. 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 BY SARAH SCULLY AND 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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