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  1. #1

    Lyons Sisters Q & A

    Hello all

    I have read about this case for some time now. I had a couple stray thoughts I wanted to share.

    Since there were two girls taken what are the odds it was someone they knew? It wouldn't necessarily have to be someone they knew well, but someone they obviously trusted.

    Another question I have is about TRM. When was he last sighted? If the sisters were last seen between 2:30 and 3:00 heading home has anyone ever found a reference to the latest sighting of TRM? IF he was spotted at say, 4pm or later then he would be the proverbial red herring.

    Just wondering.......

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    Answer to Shipmatekate

    I don`t know about the odds, but this is what many people are overlooking. Everybody is a POTENTIAL suspect, whether known or unknown to the 2 girls, but why speculate about this person or that one, when in reality, the last person the girls probably spoke to on that horrible day was a child predator with a tape recorder. The time frame for this encounter varies, but most agree it happened about 1:00 P.M. The TRM was never seen again, & like posted, the Lyon Girls also dissapeared that day.
    I can`t see speculating, or even naming other suspects until the TRM has been found, questioned, & positively cleared !

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    Quote Originally Posted by shipmatekate View Post
    ...
    Since there were two girls taken what are the odds it was someone they knew? ...
    Another question I have is about TRM. When was he last sighted? If the sisters were last seen between 2:30 and 3:00 heading home has anyone ever found a reference to the latest sighting of TRM? IF he was spotted at say, 4pm or later then he would be the proverbial red herring.

    Just wondering.......
    As to your first question, I don't think that any kind of "odds", statistics, or mathematical probabilities can begin to explain a case like the Lyon Sisters' Disappearance. This kind of case has usually remained unsolved because it defies the odds. It was investigated pretty thoroughly over the years, and I am sure that the police considered various family members, relatives, acquaintences, and neighbors as possible suspects at one point or another.

    As you point out, and as Jeb mentions, there is a very odd character who was seen speaking to Sheila and Kate that day. When I wrote my account or summary of the case, I went with what was generally reported by police and in the newspapers of the time.

    "Accounts" may differ for a number of reasons, but here is probably the best one, because it quotes the boy who actually saw the girls talking to the Tape Recorder Man. The boy was identified by the Washington Star reporter only as "Jimmy", and it was stated that this was NOT his real name. The full text of the interview appears in this forum under the Thread on Press Reports.

    --------------------------------------
    Quote:

    ... Jimmy, who lives several blocks from the Lyons said he and his friend rode their bikes up to the plaza that day "to see friends. We just went up there to ride around. We had nothing else to do so we decided to go up there and look around."

    "It was about 1 or 2 o'clock." Jimmy related. "I was out with a friend. We were down near ... um ... Peoples (Drug Store) and the Orange Bowl (pizza carryout) and we saw the two girls talking to a man with a tape recorder."

    "I heard the man ask one question: ' Are any of you two involved in sports?'"

    "And then ... um ... 30 seconds later I looked back. He was walking away toward Wards (Montgomery Ward) and the girls were walking the other way toward the fountain."

    ... Jimmy was asked to give more details about what he had seen.

    He smiled when he told how he and his friend had joked about going over to the man and asking him to interview them so they could get on television.

    "I said to my friend, 'Hey, look over there. I wonder what's going on. It looks like a reporter.' We thought he was some kind of a reporter," Jimmy explained. "We were joking around that maybe we should go over there and get him to interview us."

    "The man was holding a microphone in his hand between the girls, and asking questions. He had a tan briefcase on the ground. It was one of those hard ones that sat up." the boy said, adding that the tape recorder was sitting next to the man, out of the briefcase.

    The man was sitting on the ledge next to an island of (illegible word - bushes?) in the middle of the plaza, Jimmy said. People sit on the ledge to rest during their shopping sprees or to eat a snack or pizza from the carryout.

    Jimmy said he had never seen the man before or since. He said the man was well dressed in a brown suit.

    Unquote
    ------------------------------

    So, TRM walked away immediately after talking to the Lyon girls. He was never seen again by Jimmy or anyone else - as TRM. When a sketch of TRM, based on Jimmy's description and with his help was published in the newspapers and shown on television, quite a few persons came forward to say that they had seen him earlier at Wheaton Plaza and at other shopping centers as well.

    There were a few other sightings of the Lyon sisters at and near Wheaton Plaza that same day, however, and aparently AFTER they were seen by Jimmy talking to TRM. Their brother Jay stated that he saw them talking to the Easter Bunny in the Mall, and he later saw them eating pizza at the Orange Bowl.

    The later sighting of them walking on Drumm Ave, near Devon at about 3:30 PM was from another boy who came forward two weeks after the girls disappeared. His story was that he told his parents about the sighting as soon as he learned that the girls were missing, but because an erroneous news report stated that the girls had been seen at Wheaton Plaza around 7:30 PM, the boy's parents did not think his information was important. When it did come to police attention, they had to evaluate it with the consideration that it was time late in coming to them, and that the boy may have been mistaken in his recall of the time or date. They may even have had doubts as to whether it was the two girls, or possibly others, because by then, there had been numerous false or mistaken reports of sightings.

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    A Place for Questions

    I thought I'd start a thread just for questions. Some of the questions on this forum get lost in various threads. So if you have a specific question regarding this case here's a good place to post it
    Children don't stop dancing

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    Who saw TRM at Wheaton Plaza on 3/25/75

    I'll start.

    Did anyone other than "Jimmy" see TRM at Wheaton Plaza on 3/25/75?
    I've read conflicting reports that aren't exactly clear. Clearly Jimmy reports seeing TRM on 3/25/75. Some reports state store workers saw TRM in Wheaton Plaza, but did they see him on 3/25/75? Or on a previous day?

    It is important to determine if anyone other than "Jimmy" saw TRM at Wheaton Plaza on 3/25/75.
    Children don't stop dancing

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    Quote Originally Posted by SharetheLight View Post
    I'll start.

    Did anyone other than "Jimmy" see TRM at Wheaton Plaza on 3/25/75?
    I've read conflicting reports that aren't exactly clear. Clearly Jimmy reports seeing TRM on 3/25/75. Some reports state store workers saw TRM in Wheaton Plaza, but did they see him on 3/25/75? Or on a previous day?

    It is important to determine if anyone other than "Jimmy" saw TRM at Wheaton Plaza on 3/25/75.
    I think I found the answer to my question:
    Bolded by me.

    http://www.gazette.net/200512/montgo.../265842-1.html


    "In talking to patrons and employees who had been at Wheaton Plaza that day, police learned that several people had seen the girls talking to a man holding a microphone attached to a tape recorder inside a briefcase.
    Children don't stop dancing

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    Wink Great minds think alike..........

    Quote Originally Posted by SharetheLight View Post
    I think I found the answer to my question:
    Bolded by me.

    http://www.gazette.net/200512/montgo.../265842-1.html


    "In talking to patrons and employees who had been at Wheaton Plaza that day, police learned that several people had seen the girls talking to a man holding a microphone attached to a tape recorder inside a briefcase.
    I asked this same question on the TRM thread this is the answer I got from Richard on post #90.

    Telling and retelling of the TRM tale...

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Motherof5
    This was taken from the 2005 Gazette article........

    In talking to patrons and employees who had been at Wheaton Plaza that day, police learned that several people had seen the girls talking to a man holding a microphone attached to a tape recorder inside a briefcase. Witnesses said he was trying to record women's voices for an answering machine. When news of the man with the tape recorder broke, police were inundated with calls from other girls and women who had been approached by a similar man.

    SEVERAL PEOPLE saw the girls talking to TRM?????? I thought "Jimmy" and his friend were the only ones that saw this? Are they considering 2 to be several?

    Quote from Richard-

    This is a case of the facts being garbled in retransmission. Note that the date of the article is 2005, some thirty years after the girls went missing. The author of this article is probably summarizing and rewording one of my earlier case summaries, and in so doing got some of the facts mixed together.

    "Jimmy" (not his real name but the one used by police and news media at the time because he was a minor) and his friend (another 13 year old boy who was not named in the press) were the only two persons to see the man with the tape recorder talking to Sheila and Kate that day, 25 March 1975. "Jimmy" knew the girls personally and so is the most reliable witness regarding this story.

    "Jimmy" mentioned having seen the girls at the mall to his parents the next day, when news of their disappearance was on the radio, TV, and newspapers. It wasn't until the 28th of March that "Jimmy" mentioned the Tape Recorder Man to his parents, at which time they thought it significant enough to call the police. They went to the police station that night and spent 2 and a half hours there while "Jimmy" gave his account, looked at mug shots, and assisted with the composite drawing. He mentioned his friend, and there is indication that his friend was also questioned by police.

    Police showed copies of the drawing to employees and persons at Wheaton Plaza the next day, Saturday 29 March 1975 but nobody recognized him or stated that they had seen anyone with a tape recorder on 25 March.

    In a press conference on Monday 31 March, the composite drawing was released to the news media and at that time, a police spokesman stated that they had some other possible leads about the Tape Recorder Man, but no specifics were given.

    AFTER the composite drawing of the TRM appeared in the media, hundreds of calls came into police headquarters, and about 15 persons claimed to have seen such a man with a tape recorder on OTHER OCCASIONS and at other malls.

    One person stated that he saw such a man at Wheaton Plaza on 28 February and that a neighbor told him that such a man was seen the next day on 1 March 1975. A man with a tape recorder was seen in mid February speaking with a young girl at White Oak shopping center.

    In Prince Georges County, seven different sales girls who worked at Iverson Mall and Marlow Heights Shopping Center stated that a man had approached them individually to request that they record a phone message for his phone on tape. All refused.

    At least one person stated that a tape recorder man was seen at Bowie Shopping Center in PG county.

    There were also two or three Wheaton Plaza employees who came forward AFTER the sketch was released to state that a man with a tape recorder was seen a day or two PRIOR to the 25th of March at Wheaton Plaza. Evidently, they had not been working or were not shown the sketch by Montgomery County Police at Wheaton Plaza on Saturday the 29th of March.

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    The paper route........

    The girls shared a paper route with younger brother Joe.They wouldn't have handed the paper to people,but they would have knocked on doors to collect the money for the route however often that was done,right?I'd like to know when was the last time they collected the money? The article said that they split the route.I assume that means that they took turns,so they would each be out alone doing the route on thier particlar Wednesday.I'm just thinking that in collecting the money,they would have come in contact with alot of people.I wonder how soon before they were taken did they collect money from the route and who collected it?

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    Source for only 'jimmy and friend' seeing TRM 3/25

    I guess my next question is what is the official source that states only "jimmy" and friend saw TRM at Wheaton Plaza on 3/25/75?
    I posted an article from 2005 stating several saw them talking to TRM on 3/25/75. Is there an article written in 1975 that states "jimmy" and friend were the ONLY people who saw TRM on 3/25/75??
    It could be a case of misreporting or it could be police revealed more info in 2005.

    For example, As we know there are several articles that state only a friend saw the girls walking home, but in one later article is states Mr. Mann saw the girls walking home too, so maybe it's misreporting, maybe more facts came out.
    Children don't stop dancing

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    Official source........

    Quote Originally Posted by SharetheLight View Post
    I guess my next question is what is the official source that states only "jimmy" and friend saw TRM at Wheaton Plaza on 3/25/75?
    I posted an article from 2005 stating several saw them talking to TRM on 3/25/75. Is there an article written in 1975 that states "jimmy" and friend were the ONLY people who saw TRM on 3/25/75??
    It could be a case of misreporting or it could be police revealed more info in 2005.

    For example, As we know there are several articles that state only a friend saw the girls walking home, but in one later article is states Mr. Mann saw the girls walking home too, so maybe it's misreporting, maybe more facts came out.
    You and I have posted the same question about the same article. My source was Richard. I guess we need Richard to come back and tell us who his official source is.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Motherof5 View Post
    You and I have posted the same question about the same article. My source was Richard. I guess we need Richard to come back and tell us who his official source is.
    Right. I should have been more clear with my question. I was questioning whoever had the official source for that report. I was looking for a link to whatever source Richard used in the recounting of events. Or any official source that anyone has seen that states that only "jimmy" and his friend saw TRM on 3/25/75.
    Children don't stop dancing

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    Pulling My Hair Out

    Quote Originally Posted by SharetheLight View Post
    Right. I should have been more clear with my question. I was questioning whoever had the official source for that report. I was looking for a link to whatever source Richard used in the recounting of events. Or any official source that anyone has seen that states that only "jimmy" and his friend saw TRM on 3/25/75.
    This is soooooooooo frustrating!! There are just to many reports out there with conflicting stories. I just read one that said older brother Jay was the last to see the girls that day.If this were true we'd have to discount the walking home sightings.I'm considering calling LE just to get the facts straight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Motherof5 View Post
    This is soooooooooo frustrating!! There are just to many reports out there with conflicting stories. I just read one that said older brother Jay was the last to see the girls that day.If this were true we'd have to discount the walking home sightings.I'm considering calling LE just to get the facts straight.
    That would be an enormous help. We could figure out:
    1-who really was the last to see the girls
    2-did anyone other than "jimmy" and friend see TRM on 3/25/75
    3-how many people reported seeing the girls after 2:30 that day
    4-did Jay see them with the Easter bunny and at the Orange bowl (some articles don't list the orange bowl sighting)

    Those seem to be the major sources of differing accounts out there. Can you think of anything else that we've seen conflicting reports on?
    Children don't stop dancing

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    Our Questions.............

    Quote Originally Posted by SharetheLight View Post
    That would be an enormous help. We could figure out:
    1-who really was the last to see the girls
    2-did anyone other than "jimmy" and friend see TRM on 3/25/75
    3-how many people reported seeing the girls after 2:30 that day
    4-did Jay see them with the Easter bunny and at the Orange bowl (some articles don't list the orange bowl sighting)

    Those seem to be the major sources of differing accounts out there. Can you think of anything else that we've seen conflicting reports on?
    I think we should think for today and see if we have any other questions and then I'll call them tomorrow. Sound good?

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    Eyewitnesses

    I hope that the following might help to answer some of the questions posted here and on other threads.

    Note that the police and press were a bit inconsistant when it came to naming witnesses. In some instances, they gave full names and even addresses. At other times, they would only state that the witness was a "13-year-old boy", this was usually in the case of minors, although they consistantly identified one boy by his real name (David Reed age 12). And they were consistant in using a sudonym ("Jimmy") for one witness.

    The identities of ALL the witnesses whom I discuss below are known by police as well as their full statements regarding what they saw or heard. Obviously police have much more in their files than they ever released to the press. So, when I say that a witness was "unnamed", I am referring to the way the press reported it in 1975 and later.

    There has been some recent speculation about the identity of various witnesses who reportedly saw the Lyon sisters on their way to or from Wheaton Plaza Shopping Center or while they were there that day. In a previous post, I stated what I knew of those eyewitnesses as reported in the press in April 1975.

    The 13-year-old boy, called "Jimmy" by the police and press (at the request of his parents), lived near the Lyon home. He attended the same school (Newport Junior High) as Sheila Lyon and got on and off the school bus at the same bus stop. "Jimmy" was NOT his real name and I always put quotation marks around the name to indicate this.

    "Jimmy" is not the same person as James Mann, who reportedly lived in a house near Drumm and Devin in 1975. There is a James Mann, now age 88 living in Kensington, Maryland, but I do not know if this is the same person who was interviewed around 2005. He would have been age 54 in 1975.

    I have confirmed positively that a James M. Mann was living at 10901 Devin Place, Kensington, MD in 1975. This was from a 1975 Maryland Suburban phone directory.

    I do not know James Mann and have never heard or seen his name in any of the 1975 news stories concerning the disappearance of the Lyon girls. I do not know if he told his story to police or news media back then, or if he was relating it for the first time some 30 years later.

    The first time that any mention (in the press) was made of someone seeing the girls walking home on Drumm near Devin Place, was on 17 April 1975, and it was not Mr. Mann who was mentioned as the witness. See below.

    Of all the known witnesses who came forward at the time (and were mentioned in news papers), the most reliable sightings seem to be those of the six persons who saw the girls inside Wheaton Plaza between about 11:45 AM and 2:00 PM on 25 March 1975. Those sightings are in line with their known departure time of about 11:30 AM and their intended return home time of about 3 PM. Those six were:

    - Mrs. Sarah M. Biosca, then age 67, a retired seamstress who saw the girls about 11:45 AM in Becker's Leather Goods Store. She stated that the girls were looking at a wallet on display. Mrs. Biosca died in 2003.

    - Brian McAbee, then age 18, who was a clerk at Up Against The Wall, a jeans and shirt store which was five shops away from Becker's Leather Goods. He said that the girls came into his store to look around; "I saw them walk through the arch."

    - Jay Lyon, then age 14, brother of Sheila and Kate, said that he saw them standing in the Mall Center near the Easter Bunny display about 1 PM. Some news reports state that he saw his sisters later, around 2 PM, eating pizza at the Orange Bowl, but that may be incorrect.

    - An unnamed boy, then age 13, stated that he saw Sheila sitting (leaning?) on the arm of the Easter Bunny, listening to children tell him what they wanted for Easter.

    - "Jimmy", then age 13, stated that he saw both Sheila and Kate talking to a man with a tape recorder and microphone. (see previous posts for details). As stated previously, "Jimmy" knew the girls and recognized them at the time.

    - Another unnamed boy, also 13 at the time, was with "Jimmy". The two had ridden their bikes to the mall that day and were outside the Orange Bowl pizza carry-out restaurant when they saw the girls being "interviewed". He confirmed virtually every detail of "Jimmy's" story, except that he had not heard any of the conversation between the girls and the Tape Recorder Man. This TRM sighting by the two boys occurred some time between 1 PM and 2 PM.

    Also mentioned in early reporting was the story of 12-year-old David Reed, a 7th grade student at Sheila's school. He claimed that he recognized the girls from having seen them at the community swimming pool (probably the previous summer) and that he had seen Sheila at school. His story is rather detailed, stating that he had just finished playing basketball at a friend's house and that he passed them on the sidewalk near the intersection of Drumm and Faulkner, and that the girls were headed AWAY from their home and walking TOWARD Wheaton Plaza Shopping Center.

    The big problem with David's story is that police quoted him as stating that this sighting occurred at about 7:30 PM. It just did not fit with all other known clues and facts in the case, and so by mid April 1975, Police had virtually discounted David's entire statement.

    It is my own theory that David's entire report was probably accurate and truthful - except that he was some how misquoted or misunderstood when it came to the time.

    As the police noted, a 7:30 PM sighting does not make much sense. Sunset on 25 March 1975 occurred at about 6:25 PM Eastern Standard Time. (Daylight Savings time would not occur for another full month on 25 April.) Even accounting for a period of twilight, this would have been a sighting made in total darkness. And why would young David be playing basketball in the dark at supper time?

    It is just my opinion, but I feel that David may have told the police that he saw the girls on their usual route headed toward the mall at about "leven thirty" - which is when they were actually headed toward the mall. A minor speach impediment or bad phone connection, or faulty hearing by a cop who didn't use hearing protection on the firing range could easily account for this mistake.

    It is also more likely that David had been playing basketball in the late morning and was headed home for lunch when he saw the girls. Note that at the same time the girls were leaving their house, their own brothers were asking their mother where their basketball was.

    At any rate, police decided to discount David's account, and they expressed this to the press. At this point, police were stating that their best estimate for the last sighting of the girls was around 1:00 PM inside the mall.

    Then, on Thursday, 17 April 1975, The Washington Post reported that police had a new sighting report - one which they had been withholding for a few days while attempting to verify it. This new account was by a teenaged boy who stated that he was riding "with one other person" in a car headed west on Drumm Ave. between 2:30 and 3:30 PM on 25 March. The boy was not named by police, but they stated that he was "over 15 years old". A Washington Star reporter stated that police took this boy's statement on 4 April 1975.

    This "Over 15" witness stated that he had seen both girls walking west on Drumm near Devin (away from the Plaza and toward their home). He stated that they were alone and "just walking normally along the roadway." He further stated that he had not come forward sooner because reports that the girls had been seen in that area later in the evening by another person made him believe that his information was insignificant. This witness was never identified (by the press), and it was never stated who the driver of the car was and whether or not he could confirm the sighting and identification of the girls. The Washington Star reporter stated that both men were interviewed by the police, but that only the 15-year-old knew the girls.

    A police spokesman at the time stated that they were 95 per cent sure that this latest witness saw the girls. And he further stated that this sighting was important because "it leads us to believe they weren't taken from the shopping center as might originally have been suspected."

    When I spoke with police investigators working on this case many years later about this sighting, they stated that they were much less certain about it. By the time it was reported, 2 or 3 weeks had elapsed and it was felt that there was room for error in memory and for possible fabrication. By then, the girls route and story had been well publicized as well as the doubt about the David Reed sighting.

    One thing is certain, however. IF this car with two people in it had been going west on Drumm at the time stated, and IF the girls were actually seen going in the same direction - it is most likely that the car went right by the abductor's vehicle moments later. Or that the abductor's vehicle was following right behind him. No reports of any suspicious vehicles were made, however - not by these two boys OR by James Mann.

    There is room for much speculation regarding the sighting claims of David Reed, James Mann, and the "Over 15" witness.

    Had all three seen the girls? Had any of them seen the girls that day?

    Were the girls actually headed home around 2:30 PM walking west on Drumm near Devin?

    David Reed's time estimate was obviously off, but IF he did see the girls, was it at about 11:30 AM, or could it have been closer to 2:30 PM? If the latter, did the girls reverse course to return to the mall after being seen by the other witnesses?

    What is known with absolute certainty is that the girls were seen by at least six witnesses at Wheaton Plaza Shopping center between about 11:45 AM and 2:00 PM and they never made it home.
    Last edited by Richard; 03-31-2009 at 07:08 PM. Reason: Confirmation of Mr. Mann address at Devin Place.

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