Discussion in 'Sheila and Katherine Lyon' started by Jeana (DP), Jan 1, 2006.
Will someone please copy the information about the "tape recorder man" to this thread?
The following is a word for word copy of an article which ran in the Washington Star Newspaper on 3 April 1975. Much has been said about a suspicious man seen speaking with Sheila and Katherine Lyon shortly before their disappearance on 25 March 1975.
He was reported to be speaking to the girls with a tape recorder and hand-held microphone, hence his nickname "The Tape Recorder Man" or TRM. Some old newspaper stories refered to him as "Microphone Man", but on this thread "TRM" seems to be the name of choice.
I added the below story to the origional thread rather late in its run. It can be found on the second to last page of that thread. I include my comments on it as a preface to the article.
Eyewitness: Last Time the Lyon Girls Were Seen
Below is the text of a front page article which appeared in The Washington Star newspaper on Thursday, April 3, 1975. It is an interview with the boy who saw and described The Tape Recorder Man talking with Sheila and Katherine Lyon on the afternoon of 25 March 1975, at Wheaton Plaza shortly before they disappeared.
The headline is a bit misleading, because the girls were actually seen a short time later by their brother, Jay and possibly a little later by another boy.
Aside from "Jimmy's" detailed statement and description to the Montgomery County Police on 28 March 1975, this is as close as it comes to a first hand account of exactly what he saw and heard in regard to TRM and the Lyon sisters. To my knowledge, it is the only newspaper interview that he gave.
Also interviewed in this article is Davis Morton, the Montgomery County Police officer who drew the two composite sketches of the Tape Recorder Man (TRM). A print of the second or "updated drawing" was included with the story.
After reporting on their interview with Jimmy and his mother, and with Davis Morton, the article shifted theme to give an account of what people were saying about the case and about how they were all reconsidering safety and security issues at Wheaton Plaza.
The Washington Star newspaper went out of business in 1982, and to my knowledge, there are no "on line" archives of their articles. I obtained a copy of this interview from a microfilm file in a library.
I typed it as it appeared in the paper, with the exception that I put x's in place of a printed street address, so as not to violate any privacy protocol.
Eyewitness: Last Time the Lyon Girls Were Seen
Thursday, April 3, 1975
By Mary Ann Kuhn and Rebecca Leet
Washington Star Staff Writers
Jimmy sat in a blue armchair in the living room of his family's Kensington home, letting his 13-year-old legs with their high-top sneakers stretch out on the turquoise rug as he talked publicly for the first time about the man he saw with the missing Lyon sisters last week at Wheaton Plaza.
Jimmy is the teen-ager who provided Montgomery County police with a description of the 50 to 60-year-old man he saw talking to the girls, Sheila, 13, and Katherine, 11, daughters of John and Mary Lyon of 3xxx Plyers Mill Road.
With his help, police drew a sketch of the man's face which has been published in newspapers and shown on television. Police have kept Jimmy's identity a secret. Jimmy (not his real name) did not seek publicity. His parents, fearful of retaliation, requested that his real name not be used.
Last night, four women who called police saying they recognized the man in the sketch went to the Wheaton Police station to offer help in drawing a new composite.
According to Pfc. Davis Morton, a robbery squad detective who does composites "to help out whenever it's needed," the 13-year-old's description of the man was accurate.
"I showed the composite to four women (separately) and it seemed to be basically the guy they had seen," he said. "They suggested a few minor changes, but I don't know if they would even be noticeable."
"Sometimes you're close and sometimes you're way off (in making a composite) but I feel better about this one because of the other witnesses."
"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 stopped talking. Up to then, the words had tumbled out. He sat there and crossed his hands over his maroon lettered football jersey.
His parents didn't say anything.
His mother sat on the sofa with an untouched glass of red wine on the next table while her husband sat across the room with the newspaper opened across his folded legs. 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.
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."
Jimmy's mother said that right after the news came out that the Lyon girls were missing, her son told her he had seen them at the plaza. But it wasn't until Friday that he mentioned anything about the man with a tape recorder, she said.
"On Friday, he said that the girls were talking to a reporter. I said, 'How do you know he was a reporter?' He said because he had a microphone. I told him that could have been anybody and notified police."
At the police station on Friday, Jimmy said, the police "had me look through two files of mug shots."
(The beginning of the next sentence seems to have been left out of the printed article)
... in a while, a police officer would ask me if everything was all right (with the sketch). I'd tell them what was right and what was wrong." Jimmy said he thought the sketch was a good likeness. His mother said he was at the police station 2 1/2 hours that day.
Jimmy's friend who was with him the day the Lyon girls were seen with the man at the plaza verified virtually everything Jimmy said except that he said he did not hear any of the conversation between the man and the girls.
"I hope they find them." Jimmy said.
Meanwhile, fewer kids are "hanging" at Wheaton Plaza in the days since the Lyon sisters disappeared.
"Kensington, Md., isn't all that exciting a place, " 15-year-old Rachel Farr explained the mall's magnetism for teen-agers yesterday. "This (the plaza) is the best place to hang."
But now, "There's a kind of eerie feeling around the mall.... You can really see it," said 16-year-old Eric Provost, assistant manager at the Orange Bowl. "There's less talk. Less fooling around. When somegody goes up now (to the plaza) they have a reason."
Karen McGhee, 11, said that when her friend's coat fell as they were walking through the plaza yesterday and a man stopped to point it out, "I got my lungs ready to scream if he grabbed her."
A spokesman in the plaza manager's office said calls have come in from people wanting to know if it is safe to come there and shop.
If Montgomery County teen-agers are not gathering at the mall, they also are not running away from home as much since the Lyon girls disappeared, according to the county's Juvenile Bureau, which is investigating the case.
After eight tense days, the investigation of the Lyon girls' disappearance is settling into the tiring, colorless and seemingly endless routine of tracking down one fruitless lead after another - remembering, the police often note, that it may take only one good lead to resolve the mystery.
Yesterday, specially trained tracking dogs from Philadelphia spent the morning sniffing the area behind Oakland Terrace Elementary School and Newport Junior High, where the girls are students, in a re-check of an area officers already have searched twice.
Police said the dogs turned up nothing. Their two day role in the continuing drama ended as have so many apparently hopeful starts - quietly, uneventfully, sadly.
"We don't have anything," one officer said yesterday. "We're right back where we started."
Was there a composite drawing of this guy?
Yes, there were two actually. One was drawn as described in the Star article. and a few days later, after the first drawing was published (generating over 300 tips) a second "revised" drawing was made. It differed from the first only slightly in the chin area. You can view both drawings by going to the Links to Doenetwork's files.
Fred H. Coffey. I believe this picture was taken in 1995. Possibly later.
I would like to know what he looked like in 1975.
That photo of Fred is a prison photo taken in 2004. It is from the North Carolina Inmate Locator website.
Yes it is. That is where I got the photo. How did you find out what year it was taken? I could not tell from the info there what year it was taken, or did I over look it?
I have seen that same photo before, and I am pretty certain that there was a date with it. Either that, or it was the date that Coffey was transferred to his current prison, and there would have been a new photo taken at that time. Coffey has been moved around a number of times in the NC prison system over the past 19 years.
Correction: I found a copy of that photo in my files and it has the date 2003 on it. I cannot be certain that was the date that the photo was taken or if it was when it first appeared on the NC Prison Locator, as that is where it was downloaded from.
Today marks the 31st anniversary of the day that the "Tape Recorder Man" (or "Microphone Man" as he is sometimes called) was first described by the witness "Jimmy" (not his real name) to PFC Davis Morton of Montgomery County Police, who in turn produced the sketch which was published by all newspapers and shown on all TV stations in the Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia areas.
Although the sketch was modified slightly and reissued, it still carried the origional date of 28 March 1975.
The Tape Recorder Man was seen by "Jimmy" and a friend at Montgomery Plaza talking to Sheila and Katherine Lyon, whom Jimmy knew personally. Here is a summary of what he said about the incident (see full text in the Star article in previous post). Note, I have placed his story in sequence of how things occurred, rather than in the exact order he told it, because he was responding to a reporters questions. Note that the reporter also spoke to the friend who verified the entire story, except that he did not hear any of the conversation between the man and the girls.
"It was about 1 or 2 o'clock. I was out with a friend. We were down near
Peoples (Drug Store) and the Orange Bowl (pizza carryout) and we saw the two girls talking to a man with a tape recorder."
"The man was sitting on the ledge next to an island of bushes in the middle of the plaza. The man was well dressed in a brown suit. I had never seen him before or since."
"I said to my friend, 'Hey, look over there. I wonder what's going on. It looks like a reporter.' 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 tape recorder was sitting next to the man, out of the briefcase."
"I heard the man ask one question: ' Are any of you two involved in sports?'"
" Then ... 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."
New article at huffcrimeblog.com speculates on a connection to a Memphis newscaster charged with rape, Ron Meroney.
I saw that post. The man's picture and the composite's are really close.
While I do not reject this possibility out of hand, I feel that Mr. Huff needs to do far more investigation into Meroney before proposing any connections to the Lyon Case.
Meroney seems to have had some run-ins with the law regarding sexual misconduct with minors in his past. He has not, however, been identified as having abducted or killed anyone.
I would caution making comparisons between a present day photo of 69 year-old Meroney and sketches made 31 years ago. Why didn't Mr. Huff obtain a 1975 photo of Meroney for comparison before posting a side-by-side comparison in his blog?
The two composite drawings are covered in depth in this forum. I got the doenetwork to print them with their on-line files last year. Those drawings, in and of themselves are actually not PROOF of anything. They were meant by police only to generate leads on a person of interest in 1975. It is interesting that comparisons are being made with them today.
As Mr. Huff points out in his article, there were only two known witnesses who actually SAW TRM speaking with the Lyon sisters. It is those two eyewitnesses who might still be able to identify that unknown individual today, but it would be a long shot, and police would have to be very careful in how they presented any photo line up. By placing Meroney's photo side-by-side with the two sketches on his website for any and all to see, Mr. Huff has pretty well eliminated any future eyewitness testimony against Meroney in this case - at least in regard to him being the TRM. A defense lawyer could probably get any such testimony excluded as having been tainted.
I feel that more investigation should be done. What about photos of what Merony looked like in 1975? What was his time slot for broadcasting? He might have been on the air at the time of the girls' disapearance. Has he ever commented on the case?
As Mr. Huff points out in his article, it seems unlikely that this well known radio/TV personality would have been hanging around Wheaton Plaza with his tape recorder trying to talk to little girls. It would have been very risky because somebody might have recognized him.
It would be interesting to compare Mr. Meroney's travels and locations with other disappearances, rapes, and sexual assults of record.
I find these statements Steve made very interesting:
I found that a Ronald A. Meroney ran for some sort of political office in 1976 in Annapolis, MD. He ran as an independent, and was described in the brief blurb in the Frederick, MD as a "former weatherman." It seems easy to conclude that Meroney was in the area then in 1975. If he lived in the Annapolis area, he was about 38 miles or so from Kensington, where the Wheaton Plaza was located.
Several extortion-type phone calls were made to the Lyons family in the weeks following the girls disappearances. The most serious call came from an unidentified male on April 4, 1975. The individual demanded that their father leave a briefcase with $10,000 inside an Annapolis, Maryland courthouse restroom. The money was left as per the instructions but was never claimed. The caller later maintained that police had surrounded the courthouse and he could not retrieve the ransom.I am sure we will be hearing more from Steve as to Mr. Meroney's travel timeline and any other cases he feels which may have any merit. He is usually very thorough.The photos were very compelling.
Ok, I'm not really up on this case, I found some newspaper articles about an abduction that took place in California, the two girls were told their parents had been in an accident, they said their abductor was of Mexican descent. One of them was raped repeatedly and they were days later released. Has there been any mention of the Lyon's sister's abductor having any sort of accent ???
They were abducted from a fresno mall. He wanted them to call him Bobby and he said he was a member of the Symbionese Liberation army.
The Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) was the name of a gang of self-styled anarchists who robbed banks and kidnapped Patty Hurst back in 1974. They were tracked to Los Angles, where most of them were killed in a shoot-out with police. Patty and other gang members were later captured.
Most of the SLA gang members were white, with one token black member - a convict named Donald "Field Marshall Cinque" De Freeze. De Freeze had escaped from prison earlier with another black convict named Theron Wheeler (who aparently had nothing to do with the SLA).
I do not know of any Mexicans name Bobby who were associated with the SLA. It is likely that the lowlife simply made up the story to frighten the girls. The "SLA" was big news at the time, so everyone had heard of it.
I agree with SouthernGirl 100 %, sexual offense of a 9 yr. old child is a violent crime !
Separate names with a comma.