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Planning the Trip to the Mall (ATTN: cat123)

Discussion in 'Sheila and Katherine Lyon' started by Fukiyama, Jan 23, 2010.

  1. Fukiyama

    Fukiyama Active Member

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    Welcome to cat123 and thank you for sharing your experiences. If you're still visiting the forum, I have a question for you and if not, maybe it's something that could be discussed generally.

    Cat stated that she was a friend of Sheila's and was supposed to go to the mall with the sisters except for the fact that she was grounded. However, news reports and interviews with Mrs. Lyon indicate that the trip to the mall was planned on short notice.

    If Cat could, I would ask her to elaborate on what she remembers of the sisters' plans that day and the timing involved.
     
  2. cat123

    cat123 New Member

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    I don't remember the exact planning that went on because we did it so often. All of us had talked at school about going to the mall over Spring Break. We talked on the phone at one point and picked a day. We often planned getting together at school and when we got home we would just say to our parents we were going to the others house. She lived a couple of blocks away. We would often start off at one house and walk to another friends house. We were all within walking distance to each other. This was at a time when parents didn't have to worry so much about children walking in their own neighborhood.

    When I told my parents that I wanted to go to the mall with Shiela they told me that my teacher had called and told them that I had not turned in an assignment. I told them I hadn't done it yet but was planning on doing it over the break. My teacher had told them that it was due before the break to get full credit. I was then grounded for the rest of the break. One thing I still remember about that time was that I was so mad at my parents for making me stay home. I remember my parents asking me the exact route we took to the mall and if there were places we would play that we really shouldn't. I told them all of the places. They called the Lyons and told them. Police talked to my parents but I don't remember talking to them personally.

    I still wonder what would have happened if I had only done the assignment and gone with her.
     
  3. Fukiyama

    Fukiyama Active Member

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    Thanks for the further information. That clarifies things.
     
  4. LeslieD

    LeslieD New Member

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    I am pretty sure that I was friends with Cat123 at Newport when they disappeared. I remember the exact story she is telling here. We always went to Wheaton Plaza, walking from fairly long distances. I still tell my friends and family "I had a friend that almost went with them that day...."
     
  5. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to Websleuths and to the Lyon Sisters topic.

    Can you describe the exact route that Sheila and Kate usually took to get from their home to the mall and then back again?
     
  6. LeslieD

    LeslieD New Member

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    No, I don't know the route, I lived in a different part of Kensington. We went to a different elementary school. My understanding was that it was a well worn path to the plaza that everyone took.
     
  7. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. All that I have seen concerning the route mentions the path through the woods and then the roads to the Mall parking lot. But the exact ingress/egress points and the track of the path have never been spelled out.
     
  8. lavfam

    lavfam New Member

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    There are enough details given to track the route by using google map. If you take their last sighting heading home to be at the corner of Devin and Drumm, they would have continued on down Drumm, taken a left onto McComas Ave, then gone past the nursing home to a right onto the wooded path off of McComas. The path connected McComas and Jennings. New housing fills up some of the area beyond the nursing home and possibly obscures some or most of the path. After getting onto Jennings (assuming they made it that far), they would have turned right and headed home.

    I could be way off but my educated guess is that the path cut in around the 2900 block of Jennings.

    I grew up in this area until the age of 8 and moved away in 1972. Like many others on this board, the event still had extreme impact on me (and still does). (I went to the same elementary school and in the same grade as Kate.) However, I was never allowed that far afield so I never walked the path to the plaza. The place is amazingly not that much changed aside from the addition of some infill housing (Devin Court and McComas beyond the nursing home).

    I believe the secret of what happened to them lies in the route described above. Something involving either the density of the housing or the woods or a combination thereof...

    I also wonder about the nursing home. It is now appearing the questioning methods were different back then i.e. they are asking the public for information about security guards at the plaza this week when you would assume there would be paperwork on that. Was the nursing home thoroughly investigated? Were all workers--permanent and temps---questioned and backgrounds checked out? Also, was there an incinerator in the nursing home at that time?
     
  9. LeslieD

    LeslieD New Member

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    I am certain that the path to Wheaton Plaza was spelled out in detail. Cat123 even said that her parents asked her where she was "not supposed to play..". and she told them. The police had dogs. The path was beaten well! Back then we heard nothing...I remember talking of "Alien Abductions"...at her junior high school we never talked of it! Sheila just never came back, to lunch in my case, as she sat at the table next to me. Can you even imagine now that the police did not talk directly to Cat123? I do think about it...if cat123 had gone with them, or gone with Sheila instead of Kate....
     
  10. LeslieD

    LeslieD New Member

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    I don't understand how this works. I think I was friends with you, [modsnip], in 7th grade at Newport. I remember your story well, that you almost went to Wheaton Plaza with Sheila. I posted some replies. My name is [modsnip]. I live in Northern VA now and they have been talking about it on the local news, and I found this. I remember it exactly as you said it - you were grounded....and I just remember that Sheila never got back to school, or the lunch table, and we just waited every day and no one said anything (to me anyway). It is unbelievable to me now that they did not talk to you directly. It was sooo long ago....
     
  11. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

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    I have studied 1975 maps, and have personally walked and driven the known roads which were on the route normally traveled by Sheila and Kate. The roads today are the same as they were in 1975, and most of the houses along that route today were there in 1975.

    The path through the woods, of course, is not depicted on any map. I believe that it must have started (the return route) near the corner of Drumm and McComas and came out by one of the yards on Jennings. Because it was a "shortcut", I would guess that it was pretty much a straight line and that the Jennings Road end of it was pretty near the Lyon House.

    I say this because if it meandered much or viered wide, walking it would not have saved much time - compared with walking along the roads and sidewalks. Drumm Ave. extends as a straight line to Plyers Mill Road and from there it is only a short block to the Lyon house. Note, that Drumm has a part between McComas and Plyers Mill where you can only walk and NOT drive. It was like that in 1975 as well.

    One article that I copied to this board from the Washington Star mentioned the names of three families whose property bordered the wooded area and it stated that the path passed close to those properties. Unfortunately, I do not know the current house addresses of those properties.

    Here is what the article said about the path and roads in the route:

    Quote: ... Sheila and Kate Lyon walked out the front door of their home together, down the flagstone path, out the chain link gate, around the corner to Jennings Road and down Jennings to a wooded path on the left.

    This is the route the girls customarily use to the plaza, their mother said, and the one she often has walked herself.

    It is a 15 minute stroll that took the two sisters beyond a series of red brick houses, past the brick home of Fred Sigmon, a retired federal employee, and his wife, who have lived there 16 years, past the home where Don Anderson, 18, an Einstein high school student lives with his parents, brother and puppy, and through a wooded area the size of two city blocks.

    The wooded path brought them out to a clearing behind the white two-story house of Mrs. Mary Tolker, mother of four, and a former principal of Potomac Elementary School. But Mrs. Tolker wasn't out gardening in her backyard the day the Lyon girls walked to the plaza. She had a dentist appointment at 11 a.m.

    The clearing near Mrs. Tolker's garden opens onto McComas Avenue where the Kensington Gardens Nursing Home sits on the right. The route to Wheaton Plaza continues across McComas, up Drumm Avenue to Faulkner and on top of that street looms Montgomery Ward's and Wheaton Plaza Shopping Center....Unquote.
    From: News Reports, Articles, and Links on the Lyon Sisters Case - Page 2

    LINK:

    http://www.websleuths.com/forums/showthread.php?t=45866&page=2


    I do not know any specifics regarding who worked at the Nursing Home, or how thoroughly folks there were questioned by police. I do know that the pond which is between the nursing home and the intersection of McComas and Drumm was searched by divers. So there was some serious attention given to the area and the grounds of that property.
     
  12. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

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    The path through the woods...

    Here is an excerpt from a 2005 post regarding where the path through the woods began at the Jennings Road end:

    quote... About a year later (1976) my husband and I bought our first house together. It was at 3104 Jennings Road in Kensington ... My new neighbor was happy to tell me all about the Lyon's sisters. I did not know that this was where they had disappeared from. It felt so strange.

    She told me that the family lived up at the corner of our street by Plyers Mill. So every time I turned into Jennings, I would look at that little white house and say a prayer for the family there. I could not imagine the horror of what they were going through each and every day.

    My neighbor ( who was in her 50's then ) told me that the path that the girls ( and lots of kids ) took that day was the one across from her house. There were houses all along the street on both sides, except in that spot. A wooded area. The area does have a lot of trees anyway in all the back yards.

    I used to stand and look out her front window when I was visiting and stare out at those woods. I guess you could say that my innocense was taken along with many other people at that time. I had never really heard about children being taken that way and it was quite disturbing to me. ...

    Source:
    Sheila and Katherine Lyon-sisters missing since 1975 - Page 4 - Websleuths Crime Sleuthing Community

    LINK:

    http://www.websleuths.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6560&page=4
     
  13. lavfam

    lavfam New Member

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    Thanks for your posts, Richard.

    I had seen the first article and used that along with google map. The white 2 story house of Mrs. Tolker is what confused me. I took the article to mean that the nursing home was to the right of Mrs. Tolker's house when you are on the sidewalk of McComas facing the nursing home front---otherwise where would there be room for a white 2 story house----unless it was demolished when they built the houses on Drumm Court?

    Also, if the path did cut over that way would it have been to the left or the right of the pond as you head to McComas? Again, space issues means you would assume to the left of the pond which means where was the 2 story house? On google you can see a dormered roof line on the right hand front corner of the nursing home property (heading towards McComas)---I was wondering if this was the 2 story house that got folded into the nursing home complex at a later date. Now, of course, the whole thing is fenced off from the McComas/Drumm corner.

    The second post is such a find---I had not seen that one. But that actually ties into exactly where my second guess for the path was. If you look at google now, a little down from that house address and across the street there is the only empty space on Jennings Road (3016 Jennings Road). It is filled in as a parking lot with a boat, a taxi and some cars. Makes total sense that would be where path started. Then I guess we can assume it followed along where Drumm Court currently is. Point taken that it would need to be shorter than the route of taking Drumm Avenue the whole way otherwise why go there?

    The frustration lies in not knowing how thoroughly the police investigated at that time. We can assume they checked the woods out pretty thoroughly but did they check all the basements off the woods? Growing up in that neighborhood, the basements are a spooky memory for me. The post WWII housing was minimal in size---900-1000 square feet above grade on average----meaning that the basements were all pressed into service for additional living space. Although I doubt that was the developers' original intention. They were dank and depressing and the stuff horror films could feature even after being tiled and paneled over.
     
  14. lavfam

    lavfam New Member

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    Okay, I think I figured this out a bit better. According to public records, Mrs. Tolker's house was 3108 McComas Avenue. So I was way off in my thinking. That address is a good bit down McComas in the direction to the left of Drumm if you are heading to the plaza. That section of Drumm must not have been paved then? The "clearing" must have been to the right of Mrs. Tolker's yard, then they would have headed to the right onto McComas and then a left onto Drumm.
     
  15. lavfam

    lavfam New Member

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    Now I am realizing the "clearing" is right across from Hobson Street. Which is where Lloyd Lee Welch was arrested for burglary two years later. Do we consider this coincidence? (Sorry if I am reinventing the wheel here and this is old news....)
     
  16. Fukiyama

    Fukiyama Active Member

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    LeslieD, are you confused by why your friend Cat is not replying to you? She posted a few times here a few years ago, but has not been back.
     
  17. SophieRose

    SophieRose New Member

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    http://kensingtonheightshistory.wor...-kensington-heights-biggest-unsolved-mystery/

    Back in 1975, Mann recalled that there was a large wooded area with a cut-through path connecting the two segments of Drumm. Drumm Court and the newer houses on Drumm were years away from being built.
     
  18. Sassy Lassie

    Sassy Lassie New Member

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    Thank you so much Richard for your very interesting and concise reporting on the people and events of so long ago.

    It seems to me that the nursing home is the key to the mystery. The grounds appear to be lovely and likely a draw for the girls at various times. It is quite possible they became acquainted with someone who worked there or visited family there. Who would notice if this person talked to the girls or gave them a ride. No one. Or if they did gave it no thought. Such a person would draw no attention, people expected to see him around the place. The "man next door" who seems upstanding...but is dangerous, a fact realized too late by the girls. Able to take the girls far from the neighborhood, knowing they would never look in his direction and the girls never found.

    Hope the police will investigate the patients, their families, those who worked there and those who came to provide comfort or services of some sort back then. Just feel like the killer comes from that group of people
     
  19. LeslieD

    LeslieD New Member

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    Thank you. I want to edit my post but cannot.
     
  20. Gruffin

    Gruffin Member

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    If you go to http://historicaerials.com and type in Drumm Ave, Kensington, MD, you can pull up a 1970 aerial of the area that is better resolution than the best (1972) one I could find from the government (the former is copyrighted so I can't/won't try to download it here). After repositioning the view and zooming in, you can see what I take to be the clearing pretty well. The east (right) side of the clearing lines up pretty well with the west edge of Hobson. The south end of the clearing isn't all that far from the place on Jennings where it would appear the path starts--about 400 feet from the center of the road there as the crow flies. The total trip through the woods would seem to be just about 100 yards if the path is straight. Looking at the 1964 aerial (maybe taken in winter before leaves came out?) one can see quite well a straight north-south "path" more-or-less as described in the Washington Star article Richard quoted. However, this runs about 50 feet east of the clearing. And there is in the '64 photo a little patch of woods right in the middle of this path, just 150 feet west of an isolated small building or shed (which if it were to now exist would be between two houses on the southeast side of the circle ending Drumm Ct), which in the 1957 aerial can be seen to be connected by path or road to the nursing home complex, and it looks like there may be a north-north-west detour path or some such around this patch of (evergreen?) woods, which puts you in the clearing. So it isn't clear looking at the photos whether they would have gone straight up a northward path through the patch of (evergreen?) woods or had to veer slightly to the north-north-west at a spot 150 feet west of the nursing home out building, heading to the clearing. But I don't guess many leaves were on the trees in late March. Using the comparison feature "slide" comparing 1970 with the higher resolution 2002 aerial is useful.

    That out building I'm guessing was there in '75. I'm pretty sure one can see it in the March 1972 government photo I uploaded earlier as a little white squarish blip.
     

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