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Richard
03-18-2009, 05:59 PM
Wheaton Plaza: a description

I would like to take some time to describe Wheaton Plaza - the place where Sheila and Katherine Lyon were seen on 25 March 1975, the day they disappeared. I think that these details might be helpful in trying to envision the case and in attempting to reconstruct possible scenarios.

I got my information by visiting Wheaton Plaza a number of times, by looking at maps and aerial views, and by reviewing video news coverage of the Lyon Sisters story. The first time that I was at Wheaton Plaza, however, was in 1984.

My most recent visit was two weeks ago, and at that time, I was accompanied by someone who has been familiar with the area, the mall, and with the Lyon case since 1975. I certainly welcome any comments or corrections by folks who have more intimate knowledge of Wheaton Plaza.

Wheaton Plaza is now called Westfield Shoppingtown of Wheaton. At least that is what the signs read. It is still referred to as Wheaton Plaza by most people. The shopping mall is now completely enclosed and there are two levels of stores.

The outside perimeter of the parking lot, however, is exactly as it was in 1975.

The Mall area is bordered by University Blvd on the north, by Viers Mill Road on the east, and by residential housing of Kensington on the south and west.

There are still four entrances to the Plaza parking area: two from University Blvd and two from Viers Mill Road. There is no access for vehicle traffic from the residential area, but there is at least one walking path, and that is from a road named Faulkner Place. This walking path existed in 1975 and exists today.

Wheaton Plaza in 1975 was an open air shopping center. It had two large End stores: Woodward and Lothrops (now a Pennys) to the east, and Montgomery Wards (now a Target) to the west.

Two continuous rows of stores facing each other extended between Woodies and Wards, with a long open courtyard passage way between them. These were one story tall.

About halfway between the end stores was a fountain. Forming a T with the main row of stores at this fountain was another row of shops which extended to the south. The fountain area was referred to as the "Center" and it was here that a large Easter Bunny display was set up in March 1975.

There were a number of entrances into the shopping center. You could enter the general corridor areas through doors from the parking lot, or you could enter through either of the End stores - Wards or Woodies. Although most stores in the rows had to be entered from the corridor area, it is possible that some of those stores had service doors leading to the parking area, and there was also a general delivery area for trucks to unload.

The closest Mall entrance to the path taken by the Lyon sisters was a back entrance to Montgomery Wards. This entrance (now just service doors and loading dock) was right in line with the end of Faulkner Place. The girls could have entered the Mall through Wards, or they could have walked on the sidewalk along the south side of Wards until they reached one of the general mall entrances by the front of Wards. Wards front entrance, of course opened into the long mall corridor previously described.

The Orange Bowl (pizza carryout) restaurant was located in the main row of shops between Wards and the Mall Center. At various intervals in the open court yard area were brick planters which had bushes planted in them. Shoppers could sit on the planter ledges to rest or eat. This area was exposed to the elements. It could be cold, wet, windy, or hot depending on the weather that day.

Mall Security likely consisted of minimum wage uniformed security guards. I have never heard of any mall surveillance cameras being consulted during the investigation into the girls' disappearance. Although it is possible that some individual stores may have had cameras, I do not believe that there was any extensive camera coverage in 1975, as there is today.

Motherof5
03-18-2009, 09:17 PM
I was wondering if Jay had ever walked to and from the mall with his sisters? I was thinking that Mr.and Mrs. Lyon may have had the girls walk to the mall with their older brother a few times before letting them go alone. That's the way my parents were. I was thinking that Jay probably has a good idea of their most likely exit path if he had gone the same way with them before.

Richard
03-19-2009, 10:12 AM
I was wondering if Jay had ever walked to and from the mall with his sisters? I was thinking that Mr.and Mrs. Lyon may have had the girls walk to the mall with their older brother a few times before letting them go alone. That's the way my parents were. I was thinking that Jay probably has a good idea of their most likely exit path if he had gone the same way with them before.

The route that Sheila and Kate took to the Plaza that day was one that they and their family had taken many times before, and it was detailed quite clearly in at least one newspaper at the time. I will try to find that story and quote from it.

But basically, the girls usually left their home on the corner of Plyers Mill and Jennings, headed east on Jennings for a way, and then turned left into a wooded, undeveloped area, following a foot path.

This Path ended near the intersection of McComas and Drumm Ave. At this point, they walked east down Drumm Ave and where Drumm made a turn north, the girls took a right onto Faulkner Place. Faulkner was a side street with no houses on it, which led directly to the Wheaton Plaza, but stopped short of the Mall parking lot's perimeter road.

Faulkner ended in a curbed turn-around area and you could not drive a car any further. However, another walking path, about 20 feet long, joined the end of Faulkner to the access road. It ended immediately opposite the back entrance to Wards. Faulkner Place may have been meant as an access road to the Mall origionally, but it was never connected, except by the walking path.

This was believed to be the route that the girls took, and their return would have been the same route in reverse.

Dogs were used by police and it was reported that the girls' scent was picked up along the above stated route. But that it was uncertain WHEN that scent was left, and whether it was made coming or going.

A possible alternative route would have been for them to have walked a short block north on Plyers Mill Road to Drumm Ave, and then taken that east Until reaching Faulkner Place. Drumm has a section which was (and still is) blocked off to vehicle traffic, so a car could not have driven the length of the street, but a walking path section joined the two vehicle accessable ends.

SharetheLight
03-19-2009, 02:02 PM
There were other entrances into the mall area besides the corridors and the Mall "ends". Farrell's Ice Cream Shop was located in Wheaton Plaza and you could enter Farrell's from the parking lot. You could also enter Farrell's from the mall. There were doors on each side of the resturant.
If I remember correctly there were also movie theaters at the end next to Montgomery Ward's. From the parking lot, you had to pass a bank and enter some glass doors to get into the movie theater area. The theaters may or may not have had an entrance into the mall. I think they may have. There was a lobby type area where you purchased tickets and I think there were doors that lead to the parking lot AND doors that lead to the mall area, right next to Montgomery Wards.
The movie theaters are now not in the mall, not even connected to the structure, and they are at the opposite end of the structure then they used to be.

amh
03-21-2009, 02:44 AM
More details about Wheaton Plaza - On the same wing of Wheaton Plaza as the Orange Bowl, and flanking it I believe, there were a Roy Rogers and a People's Pharmacy. Both of those stores had openings at their north and south ends and customers could enter them from either the north parking lot, or the interior of the mall. I don't remember Farrell's opening into the mall - I thought that we could only get into it from the parking lot, but maybe all of the sugar I consumed there got me confused.

Wheaton Plaza also had (has?) an underground tunnel that was used by trucks to deliver goods to the stores. Most, if not all, of the stores in that wing - I don't know about the other wings - had stairs at the back of the stores (the sides closest to the parking lots) for employees to go downstairs where the rest of the inventory was kept. You would technically walk in to a store from the mall, to the back of the store, down the stairs, back towards the front of the store, and you would be at a solid metal door with a metal bar (for security) across the frame. That door led onto the loading dock that lined the tunnel driveway - sort of like an elevated sidewalk along a road. The outside entrance to the tunnel was (is?) on the south side of the southwest wing of the mall, not too far from what was Montgomery Wards. That tunnel opening is near, but across the parking lot from, the path that Sheila and Kate apparently used. There is also an employees-only stairway from the area at what was then the center of the mall that (by the Easter Bunny). It was gated and seemed damp and dark, but I've never been down that stairway. There was a door at the bottom. I think that stairway leads to the loading dock tunnel, but I'm not sure.

If the child who thinks he saw Sheila and Kate on their way home was mistaken, it's possible that someone (tape recorder guy?) convinced/invited/forced them to go downstairs into the tunnel, either by the center stairs, through a store's interior stairs, or from the exterior ramp, and then took them back out in a vehicle.

SharetheLight
03-21-2009, 11:44 AM
Great info amh, the underground entrance/tunnel would definitely make it easier for someone to get away with 2 girls undetected. I wonder if all of the mall staff and security were questioned. I'd think you'd have to work there to have the knowledge of these tunnels. I frequented the mall and certainly didn't know they existed.
Does anyone know if the mall staff were questioned about their whereabouts when this crime happened?

amh
03-21-2009, 11:32 PM
SharetheLight, thanks for the info about Farrells opening into the interior corridor; my sister remembers that, too. That's another place that was popular with teens and that Sheila and Kate would have likely passed on their way back towards Wards, on the same side of the corridor as The Orange Bowl. It seems that someone would have noticed them if someone led them out through that ice cream parlor to the north parking lot, but it was always crowded and noisy so maybe not. Does anyone know if there were records kept for vehicles entering the loading dock? I don't know of any. I know that deliveries to one store were made by an elderly couple in their station wagon; it wasn't unusual for personal vehicles to be down there.

amh
03-22-2009, 12:22 AM
The loading dock tunnel that ran beneath Wheaton Plaza in 1975 has been converted to retail space. Here's a link to a bunch of posts regarding people's memories of various stores that have been at the mall since it opened, and what those stores/spaces were converted to since then:

www.labelscar.com/maryland/westfield-wheaton-plaza (http://www.labelscar.com/maryland/westfield-wheaton-plaza)

SharetheLight
03-23-2009, 07:25 PM
The loading dock tunnel that ran beneath Wheaton Plaza in 1975 has been converted to retail space. Here's a link to a bunch of posts regarding people's memories of various stores that have been at the mall since it opened, and what those stores/spaces were converted to since then:

www.labelscar.com/maryland/westfield-wheaton-plaza (http://www.labelscar.com/maryland/westfield-wheaton-plaza)

Reading this link was very interesting. Lots of good info, thanks amh. I found it curious that one person posted about the Lyon girls missing and questioned whether this was a myth or true. Was it ever questioned as something that didn't happened or may not have happened?? Why would such a rumor start? This baffles me. Does anyone else have any background for such a thought?

Jeb
03-26-2009, 07:27 PM
I can only say this with 100%. I know for certain that TRM was not a myth, and I also believe he was Fred Coffey. If the Lyon Girls are a myth, then who was the TRM talking to on 25Mar75.

SharetheLight
03-26-2009, 08:55 PM
No, sorry I was unclear, the post in that article didn't state that the Lyon sisters themselves were a myth, but questioned rather or not their unsolved disappearance is a myth.

Jeb
03-27-2009, 06:58 PM
Many years prior to 1975, I had a hot rod Ford. One night me and a friend decided to roar through the Plaza Tunnel, & let those loud mufflers sound off. We made quite a racket, & at the exit, the LE was waiting. They just asked a lot of questions, & after that we left. But the impression left in my mind was that, the tunnel was well guarded 24/7.

Motherof5
03-27-2009, 07:14 PM
Many years prior to 1975, I had a hot rod Ford. One night me and a friend decided to roar through the Plaza Tunnel, & let those loud mufflers sound off. We made quite a racket, & at the exit, the LE was waiting. They just asked a lot of questions, & after that we left. But the impression left in my mind was that, the tunnel was well guarded 24/7.

Who watched those tunnels during the day,LE or mall security?

LillyRush
03-27-2009, 10:28 PM
Reading this link was very interesting. Lots of good info, thanks amh. I found it curious that one person posted about the Lyon girls missing and questioned whether this was a myth or true. Was it ever questioned as something that didn't happened or may not have happened?? Why would such a rumor start? This baffles me. Does anyone else have any background for such a thought?

I found the comment that you're talking about. It sounds like this person heard about the story when they were a kid in 80s, maybe from a friend or something. I guess if that's the only source they had, they may have questioned whether it happened. Also, sometimes people sensationalize things when they retell it to the point of it sounding unreal. It's kind of silly really because clearly this person could have just looked it up online or something. But some people are just not interested in the news, or would prefer to think of something like that as a crazy rumor to make themselves feel safer.

Jeb
03-29-2009, 08:18 PM
Sorry, when I indicated that 'LE' had the exit to the tunnel blocked, it was so long long ago that I don't recall if it was mall security, county cops' or whoever.

watermelonlady
04-10-2009, 07:45 AM
http://www.labelscar.com/maryland/westfield-wheaton-plaza

I basically only had time to skim this right now but did find it interesting. Notice that Katrina Blair's post almost halfway down the page states that her brother played the Easter bunny one year at the mall.

Also, a little farther down Stella's post mentions a report of a van in the 80s trolling the mall taking pictures of children.

Interesting stuff.

SharetheLight
04-22-2009, 04:06 PM
Wheaton Plaza: a description

I would like to take some time to describe Wheaton Plaza - the place where Sheila and Katherine Lyon were seen on 25 March 1975, the day they disappeared. I think that these details might be helpful in trying to envision the case and in attempting to reconstruct possible scenarios.

I got my information by visiting Wheaton Plaza a number of times, by looking at maps and aerial views, and by reviewing video news coverage of the Lyon Sisters story. The first time that I was at Wheaton Plaza, however, was in 1984.

My most recent visit was two weeks ago, and at that time, I was accompanied by someone who has been familiar with the area, the mall, and with the Lyon case since 1975. I certainly welcome any comments or corrections by folks who have more intimate knowledge of Wheaton Plaza.
<snip>



snipped by me for space, bolded by me for reference

Where can one go to view old video news coverage?
I know the library has old newspapers, where should I go for old video news coverages.
Any help here is greatly appreciated.

Soulmagent
06-23-2009, 01:06 PM
I noticed the post which mentioned a bowling alley in the mall and the dad was worked a radio station. I had not known he worked in a radio station but find that interesting in reguards to TRM.

WheatonKid
10-18-2009, 01:34 AM
There were other entrances into the mall area besides the corridors and the Mall "ends". Farrell's Ice Cream Shop was located in Wheaton Plaza and you could enter Farrell's from the parking lot. You could also enter Farrell's from the mall. There were doors on each side of the resturant.
If I remember correctly there were also movie theaters at the end next to Montgomery Ward's. From the parking lot, you had to pass a bank and enter some glass doors to get into the movie theater area. The theaters may or may not have had an entrance into the mall. I think they may have. There was a lobby type area where you purchased tickets and I think there were doors that lead to the parking lot AND doors that lead to the mall area, right next to Montgomery Wards.
The movie theaters are now not in the mall, not even connected to the structure, and they are at the opposite end of the structure then they used to be.

I worked at Hot Shoppes Cafeteria in 1975. There was also an emergency exit in the basement of Farrell's. A famous trick of school kids would be to leave through that door without paying for their meal. You are correct about the movie theater doors, there was a mall entrance plus the parking lot entrance.

georgiagirl
01-25-2010, 01:25 AM
Not sure if this has been posted but I just happened upon this group on FB and it has over 200 photos of Wheaton from the 1970's.

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=37805734402

mere
01-26-2010, 05:17 PM
Thanks for the link. There is some discussion of them on the group as well.

marylandmissing
01-26-2010, 06:48 PM
I was down at the mall Saturday. Well across the street at a music store. Boy has it changed in the last five years. They built a huge parking lot.

Heard Farrell's chain is coming back alive.

helpfulcharlie
07-02-2010, 09:13 PM
I grew up in that area, and spent a lot of time at Wheaton Plaza as a kid, before they enclosed it. The Lyon sisters' disappearance has haunted me since it happened.

AbbieNormal
09-28-2010, 12:57 PM
I found the comment that you're talking about. It sounds like this person heard about the story when they were a kid in 80s, maybe from a friend or something. I guess if that's the only source they had, they may have questioned whether it happened. Also, sometimes people sensationalize things when they retell it to the point of it sounding unreal. It's kind of silly really because clearly this person could have just looked it up online or something. But some people are just not interested in the news, or would prefer to think of something like that as a crazy rumor to make themselves feel safer.

I lived in Virginia when they went missing and I remember it well because child abductions weren't a usual occurence in the news, as they are now. But I remember this being on the news very clearly. There wasn't the media coverage back then that there is today. Sometimes I am curious if there are stats somewhere that would tell how much this type of crime is compared to the 60's, 70', 80', 90's. I know the media puts them in our face now, back then mostly I remember news coverage was about Vietnam, etc. Some brainiac somewhere must be studying the increase in child abductions now vs decades ago without factoring the media into the equation. I grew up, luckily, in an era where we had no fear of walking in the woods or playing outside, and I was lucky to rise kids just before all this abduction etc started to become everyday news. Now I worry like he77 about my grandkids. I have looked up their houses and there are plenty of RSO"s around. My daughters don't let them just roam the neighborhood, thank God.

They found the remains of some abducted people (adults/ children can;t remember) down in the Triangle, Va area awhile back and for a short period of time they were wondering if maybe it was the Lyon sisters, but it turned out to be two other unsolved missing people cases.

abbie

Richard
09-28-2010, 10:53 PM
I lived in Virginia when they went missing and I remember it well because child abductions weren't a usual occurence in the news, as they are now. But I remember this being on the news very clearly. There wasn't the media coverage back then that there is today. Sometimes I am curious if there are stats somewhere that would tell how much this type of crime is compared to the 60's, 70', 80', 90's....
abbie

Welcome to The Lyon Sisters featured case, Abbie.

You make a very good point concerning media coverage of this type of crime in 1975. Actually, the Lyon sisters case was quite well covered for weeks in the Washington Metropolitan area papers as well as on TV and radio. It was probably better covered than the end of the Vietnam war which was taking place at the same time.

That coverage, however, was not the norm for 1975. All you have to do is look for coverage on some of the other child disappearances of the same time frame to see how little news coverage and media attention was given them.

It is hard to say whether or not today there are more child abductions or if it is just covered more closely by the media and by Amber Alerts and such. Certainly public awareness of the problem is much higher today than it was in 1975.

AbbieNormal
10-01-2010, 05:48 PM
Welcome to The Lyon Sisters featured case, Abbie.

You make a very good point concerning media coverage of this type of crime in 1975. Actually, the Lyon sisters case was quite well covered for weeks in the Washington Metropolitan area papers as well as on TV and radio. It was probably better covered than the end of the Vietnam war which was taking place at the same time.

That coverage, however, was not the norm for 1975. All you have to do is look for coverage on some of the other child disappearances of the same time frame to see how little news coverage and media attention was given them.

It is hard to say whether or not today there are more child abductions or if it is just covered more closely by the media and by Amber Alerts and such. Certainly public awareness of the problem is much higher today than it was in 1975.


BBM.

First, thanks for the welcome, I don't think I have ever received a "welcome" to a thread. Hoe refreshing!
This is a case I will never forget, it was my Sr year of HS and it was all over the news and we got the Washington Post daily in my home. And, as I said, child abductions were not reported like they are today. Not that they didn't happen, I am sure.
In a way, I have been waiting since 1975 to hear what happened to those girls. I doubt we will ever know. Sad, sad, sad.

abbie

Richard
02-22-2011, 11:46 PM
Popular Music the week of 20 March 1975:

Lovin' You - Minnie Riperton
Lady Marmalade - LaBelle
Have You Ever Been Mellow - Olivia Newton John
Philadelphia Freedom - The Elton John Band
You Are So Beautiful - Joe Cocker
Shame, Shame, Shame - Shirley & Company
One You Get Started - Rufus feathruing Chaka Khan
No No Song - Ringo Starr
Poetry Man - Phoebe Snow
My Eyes Adored You - Frankie Valli
Shining Star - Earth, Wind & Fire

MistyM
02-23-2011, 03:46 AM
found a neat picture of it before it was enclosed. i really wanted to see what it looked like as descriptions give me no idea where to even start imagining...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v122/Thyla/6a00e551add65488340120a8a836e9970b-300wi.jpg

Richard
02-23-2011, 11:58 AM
found a neat picture of it before it was enclosed. i really wanted to see what it looked like as descriptions give me no idea where to even start imagining...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v122/Thyla/6a00e551add65488340120a8a836e9970b-300wi.jpg

Thanks for a great photo. The picture was taken at what is referred to in some of these posts as the mall center or fountain area. Behind the photographer was one of the large end stores, Woodward and Lothrop (aka "Woodies").

The scene is of the fountain area where the Easter Bunny display was set up and where Sheila and Kate were last seen by their brother Jay and by another boy.

In the background is the Montgomery Ward Company (aka Wards), which was the other large "end store". Woodies was in the East end of Wheaton Plaza, and Wards was in the West end.

The Mall was sort of "T" shaped. You are looking West at the main avenue between the End stores, but there was also an avenue of stores which extended South, toward the left of the photo.

Between the fountain and Wards was the Orange Bowl pizza takeout restaurant and the brick planter where Sheila and Kate were seen talking to the "Tape Recorder Man" (aka TRM) by the eyewitness known as "Jimmy" and his friend.

"Jimmy" stated that immediately afterward, he saw the TRM walking away toward Wards and the girls walking in the opposite direction toward the Fountain.

There were parking lots in almost any direction from which you could exit the mall. At that time, there were quite a number of different entrances and exits to Wheaton Plaza, some led directly from the parking lots to the open area shown in the photo, while others led directly into stores - particularly into the end stores of Wards and Woodies.

It is most likely that Sheila and Kate entered Wheaton Plaza through Wards, OR through the Mall entrance just to the left of Wards in the photo, as their home was to the West of Wheaton Plaza, and the path they usually took led directly to Wards' back door.

Richard
02-28-2011, 09:40 PM
Someone asked me where the Orange Bowl Pizza restaurant was located in the photo that MistyM provided a couple of posts back.

Looking at the photo, you see Wards store at the West end of Wheaton Plaza. There is a sign which reads "WARDS" high on the corner of that building which can be seen from University Blvd and Viers Mill Roads outside.

If you look at the W of "WARDS" visible in that high sign and then look straight down from it in the photo, on the right hand side of the open walking area, that is where the Orange Bowl was. It was a small take out place with a few stools to sit at. It was located about halfway between Wards and the fountain. They sold Pizza by the slice and many took it to go or sat on planter benches to eat it. Cost had just gone up to 45 cents a slice.

Across from the Orange Bowl is a white brick planter with bushes in it. You can see a row of them between the fountain and Wards. Sheila and Kate were seen talking to a man (TRM) sitting on the one nearest the Orange Bowl. He had a tan briefcase on the ground next to his feet and had a small tape recorder sitting on the planter next to him. In his hand was a microphone and he was overheard asking the girls a few questions and they were replying into his microphone.

The walkway is roughly parallel to University Ave. which borders the parking lot to the far right in the photo, on the other side of the stores.

If you walk to Wards (now a Target Store) and turn to the left, you can exit to a large parking lot. If you walk to Wards and turn right, you will be near the entrance of the movie theater. There is also an entrance/exit to a parking lot past the theater.

You could walk all the way through Wards and in 1975 there was a back door which led to a very small parking lot, and just past it, straight ahead, was a small pathway which led to Faulkner, where the girls usually walked to and from the mall. There is now only a loading dock at the back of the store, no outside entrance/exit.

I should also mention that the Main Entrance to Wheaton Plaza was just to the right of the photographer in the photo. the first thing you would see coming into the mall from that entrance was the fountain area. It is not likely that the girls used that entrance, because it would have required them to take a long walk around the theater side of the mall (upper right in photo). Going through Wards, or along the south side of Wards and coming in at the upper left of the photo would have been most likely for them.

Richard
10-06-2011, 08:03 AM
Below is a link to the current Westwood Mall which was Wheaton Plaza back in 1975. A lot has changed since the girls were there in March of that year.

In 1975, the mall consisted of two rows of stores facing eachother, on opposite sides of open air corridors. Today the entire mall is enclosed and there are upper and lower levels. Most of the buildings from 1975 have been incorporated into the present day mall, and you can see a floor plan (as it looks today) at the link.

Note that today's Target was where Montgomery Wards was located in 1975. Today's Penny's was Woodward and Lothrop (Woodies) in 1975.

The "Mall center" is midway between present day Target and Penny's, near a main entrance. It is indicated in the floor plan by a question mark (?) at the link, and that is exactly where a fountain was located in 1975. This is where the Easter Bunny display was in 1975.

Sheila and Kate probably entered the mall through Wards' (now Target) western-most outside entrance (bottom of the drawing) OR through a general mall entrance at the upper right hand corner of Wards (now Target) in the floor plan drawing.

The Orange Bowl and Peoples Drug store were on the left hand side of the floor plan between Mall Center and Wards, near what is now the entrance to Macy's.

There is an excellent description of what Wheaton Plaza was like in the thread titled "Case Summary".

LINK:

http://www.westfield.com/wheaton/directory/search/store?category=2040

Richard
12-07-2012, 01:41 PM
This time of year (Christmas Shopping season) is a super busy time for all shopping malls. I wonder if the abductor of the Lyon sisters frequented malls as a matter of habit, and if he was particularly active in December of 1974 - only three months before the girls went missing.

There has been a lot of discussion about the possible suspect/person of interest referred to in these threads as "The Tape Recorder Man" or "TRM". He was reportedly seen talking to Sheila and Kate shortly before they disappeared. Other witnesses reported seeing him - or someone who resembled the sketch of TRM - with a tape recorder at other shopping centers and malls in the Metropolitan DC area just prior to his reported appearance at Wheaton Plaza on 25 March 1975.

Could he have been doing similar activities at area malls during the Christmas Shopping season? I wonder if there was any information available which would indicate such activity, such as complaints of parents to Mall security personnel back then.

liz b.
12-13-2012, 11:59 PM
This time of year (Christmas Shopping season) is a super busy time for all shopping malls. I wonder if the abductor of the Lyon sisters frequented malls as a matter of habit, and if he was particularly active in December of 1974 - only three months before the girls went missing.

There has been a lot of discussion about the possible suspect/person of interest referred to in these threads as "The Tape Recorder Man" or "TRM". He was reportedly seen talking to Sheila and Kate shortly before they disappeared. Other witnesses reported seeing him - or someone who resembled the sketch of TRM - with a tape recorder at other shopping centers and malls in the Metropolitan DC area just prior to his reported appearance at Wheaton Plaza on 25 March 1975.

Could he have been doing similar activities at area malls during the Christmas Shopping season? I wonder if there was any information available which would indicate such activity, such as complaints of parents to Mall security personnel back then.

Richard, Great observation. Would probably have been mentioned back at the time, though ? JMO

Motherof5
06-17-2013, 11:02 AM
About the mall that day.........it was a Tuesday. What was going on at the mall the day before? They were taken on such a busy day. I'm just wondering if Monday was also busy? It's been reported that Tuesday was the first day of spring vacation for the kids...but then I saw it reported that it was the second day. Did the abductor have an entire week of busy days to choose from or was Tuesday it?

Richard
06-20-2013, 09:18 AM
About the mall that day.........it was a Tuesday. What was going on at the mall the day before? They were taken on such a busy day. I'm just wondering if Monday was also busy? It's been reported that Tuesday was the first day of spring vacation for the kids...but then I saw it reported that it was the second day. Did the abductor have an entire week of busy days to choose from or was Tuesday it?

Good question, but no simple answer. True it was a Tuesday and it was the second day of spring break for most schools - particularly the public schools of Montgomery County.

My personal feeling is that the perpetrator did not limit himself to the school or shopping mall schedules. He was probably "hunting" for potential victims 365 days of the year. But there were probably a number of factors which went into him doing what he did when he did it.

Monday, the 24th of March 1975 was a very cold and rainy day. That factor probably kept a lot of the kids from going to the mall that day, and may have contributed to the very busy day of Tuesday the 25th, which was fairly warm and sunny. That same combination of factors may have led to the perpetrator being at the mall that day.

Richard
06-24-2013, 08:14 AM
Wheaton Plaza in 1975 was an "outdoor" mall. It was somewhat enclosed, in that there were continuous rows of shops facing eachother. But, the passageway or courtyard between the stores was open to the weather. If it was raining, you would get wet, if it was cold, you were cold - unless you stepped inside one of the stores.

Today Wheaton Plaza is completely enclosed, like many modern shopping malls. Also, it has a different name, but many folks in the area still refer to it as Wheaton Plaza.

Richard
02-15-2014, 03:46 AM
Bumping this thread up due to some recent discussion about Wheaton Plaza in 1975 when the Lyon sisters, Sheila and Kate went missing. Posts 29 and 30 contain a photo and description of the Mall as it appeared around that era.

Maya Love
02-17-2014, 09:57 PM
1978
41107

Motherof5
02-17-2014, 11:26 PM
1978
41107

Great pic!! Thank you!! :)

cgoodwin22
03-10-2014, 07:47 AM
A member of the Wheaton Plaza facebook page posted a picture of the water fountain at Wheaton Plaza:

https://scontent-a-ord.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/t1/1509065_10203326666477419_808712082_n.jpg

Richard
03-10-2014, 10:20 AM
A member of the Wheaton Plaza facebook page posted a picture of the water fountain at Wheaton Plaza:

https://scontent-a-ord.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/t1/1509065_10203326666477419_808712082_n.jpg


Great photo. Thanks for posting it. This is likely an early photo of the fountain, judging by the clothing worn by the people.

The fountain was in a location known then as "Mall Central" or "Mall Center". The main entrance to Wheaton Plaza would be immediately to the left in the photo.

The photo faces East toward one of the two story "End Stores", Woodward and Lothrops (aka Woodies). Today this is a J. C. Penny's store.

Behind the photographer would be the area where the girls were seen near the Orange Bowl Pizza take out and beyond that, the other End Store, Montgomery Wards (now a Target store occupies the Wards space)

The Fountain marked the area of a "T" junction, just to the viewer's right in the photo. This was known as the "Plaza South" section as indicated in the sign.

Note the overhead covering of the fountain area and that the rest of the avenue is open to the weather, except for covered walkways on either side, close to the shops.

It was at or near this fountain that the Easter Bunny display was located, and where Sheila Lyon was seen by her brother Jay, and by another 13 year old boy who knew her.

Note that the fountain in this photo has a circular railing around it and a metal structure in the middle of it. A previous photo posted does not have any metal in or around the fountain.

cgoodwin22
03-12-2014, 02:31 PM
Another good photo from Wheaton Plaza circa 1978:
https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-frc1/t1/1948030_10203341728853969_421692488_n.jpg

cgoodwin22
03-13-2014, 07:36 AM
More pics from the MG Car Club Show @ Wheaton Plaza: June 3, 1978:
https://fbcdn-sphotos-e-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/t1/1966845_10203343155689639_1593522565_n.jpg

https://scontent-b-iad.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/t1/999950_10203343530699014_1621081425_n.jpg

https://scontent-b-iad.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/t1/1186869_10203343148329455_736379899_n.jpg

https://scontent-b-iad.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc1/t1/1975046_10203343151649538_70726977_n.jpg

Richard
03-13-2014, 09:36 AM
Great photos of Wheaton Plaza in 1978. Thanks for posting them.

You can see in one photo that when it rained, the whole avenue got wet.

Also, some great photos of the stores and of the planters between them.

It was on one of these planters that the Tape Recorder Man was reported to be sitting and "interviewing" Sheila and Kate shortly before they went missing.

Wheaton Plaza was (and is) a continuously changing place, with businesses coming and going, changing location, etc. It seems that the Orange Bowl Pizza take-out was no longer there in 1978. It would have been located between Hot Shoppes Cafeteria and the Peoples Drug Store in these 1978 photos.

The photo showing Hot Shoppes on the left was very close to the entrance to Montgomery Wards, which would have been immediately behind the photographer. To the left is a short walkway which went to the movie theater.

I believe that the Hot Shoppes business was NOT in this location in 1975, but rather at the far end of the mall near Woodies, with an entrance to the outside facing University Blvd. and that some other business was in the pictured location in 1975.

Richard
03-29-2014, 12:05 PM
Great photos of Wheaton Plaza in 1978. Thanks for posting them. ...

Wheaton Plaza was (and is) a continuously changing place, with businesses coming and going, changing location, etc. It seems that the Orange Bowl Pizza take-out was no longer there in 1978. It would have been located between Hot Shoppes Cafeteria and the Peoples Drug Store in these 1978 photos.

The photo showing Hot Shoppes on the left was very close to the entrance to Montgomery Wards, which would have been immediately behind the photographer. To the left is a short walkway which went to the movie theater.

I believe that the Hot Shoppes business was NOT in this location in 1975, but rather at the far end of the mall near Woodies, with an entrance to the outside facing University Blvd. and that some other business was in the pictured location in 1975.

I would like to correct the above post regarding the location of Hot Shoppes Cafeteria.

The photo was actually taken from the origional fountain location (also called Mall Center), facing somewhat north east, and NOT from Montgomery Wards as I mistakenly stated.

Hot Shoppes was just to the right of the main entrance to the mall (going out) and very close to Mall Center. As I had stated correctly, it was closer to Woodies than to Wards.

Woodward and Lothrop (Woodies) was the two story end store at the East End of the Mall, and Montgomery Wards was the two story store at the West End of the Mall.

It would have been very close to Hot Shoppes that the Easter Bunny display was located, and it was near here that Sheila's brother Jay and another boy saw her on 25 March 1975.

In fact, I would conclude, after viewing all the photos of the 1978 MG show at Wheaton Plaza that the fountain had been removed and paved over by that time.

If you look at the photos linked below, you will see that the blue and white car is sitting right where the fountain used to be. Right behind it is the main entrance to the mall with Hot Shoppes to the right (In first photo) and Gallenkamp Shoes to the left (second photo)

Note: Gallenkamps may have been called Edwards Shoes in 1975.

LINK:


https://scontent-b-iad.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/t1/1186869_10203343148329455_736379899_n.jpg


https://fbcdn-sphotos-e-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/t1/1966845_10203343155689639_1593522565_n.jpg

Richard
03-29-2014, 12:20 PM
Looking at the below linked photo from the 1978 Wheaton Plaza MG Show, one can see the row of stores extending west from the Main Entrance/Mall Center toward Montgomery Wards.

The first store on the left of the entrance is Gallenkamps (Possibly Edwards Shoes in 1975), then there is Peoples Drug (also there in 1975) beyond that are the restrooms and then another Shoe Store.

I cannot make out the names of the other stores beyond that, but it was between that seond Shoe Store and Wards (same row as Peoples) that the Orange Bowl Pizza take-out restaurant was located.

It was on the brick planter opposite the Orange Bowl that "Jimmy" and his friend said they had seen the Tape Recorder Man sitting and talking to Sheila and Katherine on 25 March 1975. After a brief "interview" the girls walked away toward Mall Center where the Easter Bunny Display was located, and the Tape Recorder walked in the opposite direction toward Wards.


LINK:

http://www.websleuths.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=41107&d=1392688616

cgoodwin22
04-16-2014, 12:12 PM
3-D Map of Wheaton Plaza:
https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-frc3/t1.0-9/10154150_10203601029656327_3067643905047795255_n.j pg

cgoodwin22
04-16-2014, 12:14 PM
Easter 1975:

https://scontent-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc3/t1.0-9/1794694_10203118150024638_933378382_n.jpg

Richard
04-17-2014, 10:02 AM
Thanks for posting the photos, cgoodwin22.

The one of the Easter Bunny display is interesting. I can make out the circular wall of the fountain below the ramp and walk-in "house". It looks as if the fountain was no longer functioning as a fountain and that the Easter display was built on top of it.

Earlier photos of the fountain show a circular railing around it and a metal "modern art" sort of sculpture inside it. All that metal was removed later and does not appear in the Easter Bunny photo. By 1978, the entire fountain was gone and the area paved over with flat stone.

To the right of the Easter Display is the mall's main entrance and in the far distance is Wards.

The planter and "island of bushes" in the left foreground is like the one that the Tape Recorder Man was reportedly sitting on near the Orange Bowl Pizza Take Out - which is in the distance on the right, a few stores before Wards.

The photo of the 3-D sign layout of Wheaton Plaza is also very interesting and it shows how the Mall appeared in or around 1975. Note that it was an open area mall with several large buildings. Besides the two end stores (Wards and Woodies) and all the small stores, there were other buildings which housed offices and also a Car repair/inspection place.

Vitro Laboratories, where Fred Coffey worked, had an office at Wheaton Plaza. Coffey worked mainly at the Old Vitro office in Aspen Hill, MD (current site of Home Depot), but as a computer specialist, it is possible that he worked at other Vitro sites as well.

Tap Dancer
04-20-2014, 11:33 AM
found a neat picture of it before it was enclosed. i really wanted to see what it looked like as descriptions give me no idea where to even start imagining...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v122/Thyla/6a00e551add65488340120a8a836e9970b-300wi.jpg

Here's the same picture - but larger - so it's easier to see:

http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2014/02/11/article-2556390-1B5F0AD600000578-495_634x550.jpg
Cold case breaks open after four decades: Person of interest named in 1975 disappearance of two young girls that shocked Washington, DC (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2556390/Break-Lyon-sisters-disappearance-40-years-police-person-interest.html)

Tap Dancer
04-20-2014, 03:54 PM
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3GjILt54T1c/UGcmQhdzKsI/AAAAAAAAdIY/6A2n5pHNd_Q/s1600/04_Wheaton+Woodies_Pleasant+Family+Shopping.jpg

A view of the East Wing of the retail hub, showing the mall entrance of its 4-level Woodward and Lothrop anchor store.
Photo from http://pleasantfamilyshopping.blogspot.com

Maryland's Wheaton Plaza (http://mall-hall-of-fame.blogspot.com/search/label/Maryland%27s%20Wheaton%20Plaza%20%281960%29)

Tap Dancer
04-20-2014, 09:10 PM
https://s-media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/db/77/c2/db77c209b91aa34196068498731de33f.jpg
Christmas 1969

https://s-media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/bf/4b/bd/bf4bbd09aecef71d97f020f7ac7bd8ab.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/c8/70/26/c8702631e07d8187582779738b35829f.jpg

Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=wheaton%20plaza)