Discussion in 'Sheila and Katherine Lyon' started by Richard, Jan 25, 2006.
Welcome and please continue to post!!
Thanks, Motherof5! Looks like a great community of people.
Welcome aboard, JeffM.
There is a thread on the Fitzjohn case in the Cold Cases section of Websleuths.
I have been following this forum for several years. As someone grew up in the area at the time the Lyon sisters disappeared, I have always been interested in and haunted by this case. In one of the threads, someone mentioned a man named James Kowalski who lived near the Lyon family in Kensington at the time of the girls' disappearance. I believe he was in a punk band with his teenage son. Many years later, this man was connected to the disappearance of Junior Burdinski and child pornography. Do you know if he was ever investigated as a suspect?
Hi Tony! Welcome to Websleuths and to the Lyon Sisters topic. As you mention, James Kowalski was discussed here as a potential suspect. While he may have lived in Kensington at one time, I believe that it was some time after the girls disappeared. I could not find any listings for him in the 1974 or 1975 directories.
There was a James Kowalski listed in Prince Georges County, Maryland in 1975, but I do not know for certain if it was the same man. The man you refer to, who was possibly involved with Junior Burdynski, was living in PG county in Brentwood, MD when Junior disappeared.
I do not know if Montgomery County Police investigated Kowalski as a suspect in the Lyon Case. One might hope that they did considering his subsequent behavior.
I actually found a very interesting article about Kowalski online at http://asfm.blogspot.com/2008/05/white-boy-sagitarius-bumpersticker.html (copy and paste this link into your browser).
If you scroll down through the comments at the end of the article, someone posted this:
"White Boy did indeed consist of a father and son duo: James and Glenn Kowalski aka Mr. Ott and Jake Whipp. Glenn is current in a band he fronts called 7 Door Sedan.
White Boy performed with many of the D.C. Punk groups of the era. Mr. Ott with his balding gray head would scream andwrithe...wearing a tuxedo.
All of the music scene in D.C. was shocked when the news of Mr. Kowalksi's pedophilia hit the news. He had lived in Kensington and Hyattsville and he worked at a printing plant over in College Park. While children hung around the house, playing with his own children, no one had a clue what Jim was up to.
When he was arrested a young boy in his neighborhood named Junior Burdinski was missing. He had ties to Mr. Kowalski who had done things for the child, apparently with the parent's knowledge. I believe he bought him a bicycle. Things like that. The usual "here's some candy." When the child went missing the police focused very early on Mr. Kowalksi, and as the investigation continued they found reams of child pornography in his home as well as another residence (I believe) in West Virginia where child sex parties would occur. They also tied him into a child sex ring out of Costa Rica.
Junior Burdinski has never been seen again. Rumors were rampant. He was taken to West Virginia and killed. He was taken to Costa Rica and passed around. The police grilled Kowalski for a long time about this child, and he would never tell them a thing...and hasn't to this day.
I have no idea if his son has remained in touch with his father. That's something you would have to ask him.
His father remains imprisoned. The Washington City Paper and Washington Post did a big story on this when it happened. It headlined television news nightly for weeks; the sobbing parents begging Kowalski to tell the police where their son was (and if dead, where his body was.) Most who knew him were appalled, not only by the illicit behavior (which even hardened criminals refuse to tolerate,) but by his unwillingness to spare the parents this grief of never knowing to save his own shameful skin.
If you want the full story, go out to Joe's Record Paradise in Rockville when owner Joe Lee is in residence and ask him. He knows the full story."
If Kowalski did live in the neighborhood at the time, perhaps he or one of his associates may have been able to lure the girls into his house...
It is an interesting theory and certainly possible. Unfortunately, like so many other possible suspects, he has never been linked positively with the Lyon sisters or with Wheaton Plaza on that specific day and time frame.
As the article states there were reams of photos and evidence regarding child poronography in Kowalski's homes. One wonders how many of those photos were linked positively to known children and if any were missing or known murdered.
I would think that if any photos could have been linked to this case that the detectives would have been all over him for more information.
Here is a link to a number of 1993 Washington Post articles about James Kowalski and his trials for child poronography and for child molestation.
His convictions were for innapropriate actions with young boys ages around 11 and 12. Could not find references to molestation or kidnapping of young girls. Although suspected of being involved with the disappearance of George "Junior" Burdynski, he was never charged or convicted in that regard.
You make a good point Richard, and thanks for the info on Kowalski. Another possible suspect that has been discussed on this forum is Milewski (sp?). Didn't he have some ties to the Wheaton/Kensington area? I think I remember reading that he had an associate or co-worker who lived in the Kensington area around the time of the girls' disappearance. I can't help but think that this abduction is less complicated than the involvement of TRM and the likelhood of someone unfamiliar to the area getting in and out of that neighborhood by car with the girls seems unlikely. Do we know if there were any child trafficking/pornography rings operating in the area at that time?
I wonder why this case has not been profiled on Dateline, AMW, or another such program? Someone must know something about this disappearance and maybe some new leads could be generated.
Ray Mileski lived on Suitland Road in Prince Georges County and had a home based business making and installing kitchen cabinets. He shot and killed his own son and wife and wounded another son in November of 1977. He turned himself in the same day and was subsequently tried and convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. In 1982, he became a person of interest in the case when some fellow inmates reported that he had stated that he was involved with the Lyon sisters disappearance. His former back yard was searched for a few hours by Montgomery County Police. Nothing was found. Again in the mid 1990's a tipster suggested that Mileski and some of his associates might have been involved with the Lyon Case. Mileski confirmed this in a letter from prison, hinting that he might be able to help police in return for a prison transfer. He was transferred but it is not known if this was because of any cooperation on his part. He has since died in prison.
Regarding possible child trafficking or poronography - that is certainly a possibility as we have seen regarding Kowalski and his activities, but there is no evidence that it was a factor in the girls disappearance.
Regarding why this case has not been featured on some of the national programs such as AMW, I guess you would have to ask the various TV networks and such programs. Each show or network has their criteria for selecting cases. Some feature only cases that have been solved. Others only feature cases with an identified suspect who is at large. Yet others choose for other reasons. Many would require cooperation and consent of the victim's family so that may be an issue or not. I just do not know.
In regard to James Kowalski, & having seen the TRM twice, I' d like to say there is 1 picture, & 1 picture only of Kowalski, where he looks like the TRM. All of the other pictures of him including the ones in the newspaper, at the time he was last arrested, did not even resemble TRM.
I heard that his daughter told someone they were buried in pit some distance from his house. This was in the 90s when this came out. The pit is now an elementary school.
Mileski did not have a daughter. He had three sons, of which he killed one and wounded another. He also killed their mother so the boys were raised by other relatives.
There was an informant who made a statement which included a second or third hand reference to the girls being buried in a place referred to as Andrew Jackson Pits. There is a middle school called Andrew Jackson Middle School in the area and also many many new houses. According to the informant (no relation to Mileski) this area had once been a large gravel pit.
This area is very close to Mileski's Suitland Road address. No bodies have ever been found in the area of the construction to my knowledge.
I found this excerpt in one of your posts from several years ago....I am wondering if the employee mentioned was ever publicly identified and what sort a of criminal record he had?
The Montgomery County Police detectives were indeed searching specifically for the Lyon sisters when they dug test holes in the yard on Suitland Road. It was one of many stories about the girls disappearance that was in the news over the years. Many tips were followed and many pediphiles and serial killers were investigated in depth before being ruled out.
In regard to the Suitland Road house, I cannot say specifically what information detectives had from the prison inmates, but I do know that it related directly to the Lyon Sisters. Detectives had to investigate and also had to make a determination as to the veracity of that information and as to the reliability of the informants. I do not know how much reliability was eventually given to them, or how thoroughly their information was checked, beyond the one time newspaper account.
There has been, however, subsequent information which seems to link the former owner of that house to the Lyon case. I have not seen a 1975 photo of that individual to compare to the sketch, but know that he was about 38 years old at the time. He is still incarcerated in a Maryland Prison. He had a home based cabinet repair business, and allegedly employed another person who had a long police record and who lived in several places near those two shopping centers.
The tip information about this person was given to Montgomery County Police investigators. It was not released to the press or to the general public. I can state that his known record was NOT one of capital offenses like murder or kidnapping or of violence toward children.
Fred Howard Coffey, Jr. has been mentioned many times on these boards as a person of interest in the Lyon case. He came to Montgomery County Police attention in early 1987 when he was on trial for the abduction and murder of a 10 - year-old girl in North Carolina.
Police were never able to link him conclusively to the Lyon case, other than to state that he was known to be in the Wheaton/Rockville/Aspen Hill area of Maryland by 1 April 1975. He might have been here earlier than that, but it was a date they found in his employment record at Vitro Laboratories.
Vitro had office buildings in at least four Maryland locations: Rockville, Wheaton Plaza, and two buildings in Aspen Hill. Coffey was known to work at the Aspen Hill location, although as a Computer specialist, he may have traveled between all the buildings in the course of his work.
On 24 July 1975, Kathy Lynn Beatty (age 14) was abducted, brutally attacked, and left for dead in a field near the K-Mart in Aspen Hill. This was only four months after the Lyon sisters disappeared and four miles up Georgia Ave from Wheaton Plaza. Kathy most likely walked through the Vitro Laboratories parking lot on the evening she was attacked.
Kathy was found the next morning by her sister, near death. She was taken to the hospital where she lingered for 12 days in a coma before dying of her injuries. On Saturday, 26 July 1975, a short article in the Washington Post stated that she was injured but alive in the hospital.
Fred Coffey failed to show up for work at Vitro the following Monday and remained absent permanently. Some time later, after it was announced in the paper that Kathy had died without regaining conciousness, Fred wrote to Vitro asking that they send his last pay check to him. He explained in his letter that he had left town suddenly to be with his wife and daughter who had been injured in a Kentucky auto accident. It was later learned by police that this was a lie and that he used the same lie when departing another job under suspicious circumstances.
Of course this is all circumstantial. Is it just a big coincidence? Maybe. It has been 35 years now since Fred Coffey left Vitro...
Robert Reldan was 35 in 1975. Below is a chronology of crimes he was convicted of, and others he is suspected of committing in New Jersey in the 1970's.
While it is not known if Reldan was in Maryland in March 1975, he was known to have been out on parole and actively committing abductions, rapes and murders before and after that date in nearby New Jersey.
Note in the Chronology, there is a break between the four girls that he killed in 1974 and the four he killed in October 1975. Three of those abduction/murders involved young teenaged girls who were together (double abductions).
Could Reldan have been in Maryland on 25 March 1975?
Robert Reldan Chronology
A resident of Tenafly, Robert Reldan was convicted of raping a woman at Teaneck, NJ, in 1967, serving three years in prison before he was paroled.
Five months later, in 1971, he assaulted another woman in a hospital parking lot, pulling a knife on her moments after his latest therapy session.
Convicted a second time, he emerged as a "model graduate" of Rahway prison's rehabilitation program for sex offenders. Authorities were so impressed with Reldan's progress that they chose him for a television interview with David Frost, aired shortly before his parole in May 1974.
August 10, 1974: Mary Pryor (17) and Lorraine Kelly (16), reported missing from North Bergen. The girls were last seen on August 9, when they left Pryor's home to do some shopping, and police believe they were hitchhiking when they met their killer that afternoon. Their bodies, raped and smothered, were recovered from a wooded area near Montvale, four days later, on August 14, 1974.
December 13, 1974, Doreen Carlucci (14) and Joanne Delardo (15) vanished from a church youth center in Woodbridge, their bodies discovered two weeks later, in Manalapan Township, NJ. Beaten and strangled, one victim was completely nude when found, the other dressed only in shoes and a sweater. The killer's garrote, an electrical extension cord, was knotted tight around Carlucci's neck.
October 6, 1975, the first solitary victim, Susan Reynes (26), disappeared from her home in Haworth, New Jersey.
October 14, 1975, in Demarest, Susan Reeve (22) vanished without a trace on the short walk home from her bus stop, after work.
October 24, 1975, Denise Evans and Carolyn Hedgepeth (both 15) disappeared from home in Wilmington, Delaware. Their bodies - shot execution-style - were recovered in Salem County, New Jersey, the following day.
On October 27 and 28, 1975, the remains of victims Reynes and Reeve were found, seven miles apart, in a wooded region of Rockland County, New York, just north of the New Jersey state line. Searchers were led to one corpse by an arrow, scratched on a highway embankment above the name "Reeve." Autopsies revealed that both women were strangled.
On October 31, 1975, police arrested 35-year-old Robert Reldan in Closter, New Jersey, on a charge of attempted burglary and held without bond. Reldan was questioned about the murders of Reeve and Reynes, but on November 2, 1975, homicide detectives publicly announced that he was "not considered a suspect" in the slayings.
January 1977, Reldan is indicted on two counts for the murders of Reynes and Reeve.
April 21, 1977, Reldan is charged with plotting to arrange the deaths of a wealthy aunt and her boyfriend, hoping to expedite a hoped-for inheritance. A Bergen County detective, posing as a hit man, twice visited Reldan at Trenton state prison, where he was serving three years on the burglary charge, and their conversations were secretly recorded as evidence .
June 1978, Reldan is convicted of conspiracy and awarded a term of 20 to 50 years in prison.
June 1979, Reldan's first murder trial ends with a hung jury, and a retrial was scheduled for October.
October 15, 1979, Reldan uses a smuggled key to unlock his handcuffs, sprays his guards with Mace, and escapes from the courthouse in Hackensack. He was recaptured hours later, at a hospital in Tuxedo, New York, after crashing his stolen getaway car into a ditch. The trial resumed next day, despite the anonymous mailing of $100 bribes to several jurors.
October 17, 1979, Reldan is convicted of the murders of Susan Reynes and Susan Reeve.
He remains a suspect in six other homicides, although no further charges have been filed.
In January, 1981, Reldan escaped from custody and was recaptured with added sentences.
In 1986 He murdered someone in prison and was convicted and given further sentences.
See below link for photo, information, and statistics.
LINK to New Jersey Inmate Locator file on Reldan:
Bumping this post up due to recent comments made about Mileski on another thread.
As noted, Mileski died in prison in 2004.
It was 36 years ago that a mass killing spree began at Wheaton Plaza. Michael Edward Pearch, just days before his 30th birthday, drove to the mall armed with a .45 automatic and a large knife...
DeBardeleben has died in prison. He has been mentioned and discussed as a potential suspect in the Lyon case in other posts of this thread...
James Mitchell "Mike" DeBardeleben (March 20, 1940 - January 26, 2011) born in Little Rock, Arkansas is a convicted rapist and counterfeiter, who has been in prison since the 1980s. He was infamously known as the "mall passer" by agents as he was being heavily sought for counterfeiting. After his arrest for counterfeiting, he was found to have committed much more serious sex crimes. He was not brought to trial for any murders, though two homicide cases were investigated by agents, and he remains a suspect in several more. He died in prison of pneumonia at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina.
Mike DeBardeleben - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia