(WJLA) - It's a tragic cold case that lingers on the minds of many. The disappearance of two young sisters in 1975 still haunts Heather McAuliffe to this day. She lost one of her best friends and is struggling with why.
"No one should ever do that to a child ever," she said from her office in McLean, Virginia.
The kidnapping of Sheila and Kate Lyon 39 years ago makes her skin quiver.
"I'm thankful every day that I have my daughter," she said as her eyes welled up with tears. "I feel blessed."
She feels blessed because as a child, she watched her friend's family unravel when their daughters disappeared.
McAuliffe walked to school with the Lyon sisters every day. 12 year-old Sheila was one of her closest friends.
"It was just always unresolved for so many years and it just haunted like haunted me for all this time," she reiterated.
Montgomery County police and the FBI may finally be inching closer to closure in this cold case. They appealed to the public Tuesday for more information on 57 year-old Lloyd Lee Welch. They believe he may be the girls' abductor.
His 1997 mug shot resembles the suspect sketch.
"Welch was at Wheaton Plaza on March 25, 1975," said Chief Thomas Manger. "We've also established that Welch was observed paying attention to the Lyon sisters while at Wheaton Plaza," he continued.
Welch was a traveling carnival worker. He was arrested in several states and charged with sexual offenses against young girls. He's been locked up in Delaware since 1997 for child molestation.Detectives say he emerged in recent months as a person of interest, but is not cooperating with them
They're putting out his photos in hopes that somebody remembers something.
"This still haunts me to this day," said Tony Wilbert during a Skype interview from Atlanta. "This still scares me."
He and his twin brother grew up not far from the Lyon sisters and were 10 when they went missing. "The trip to Wheaton Plaza represented freedom and then the freedom was gone."
Wilbert says what happened then changed parenting forever.
"I have a 9 year-old daughter," he explained. "She'd never be able to go three miles up the way to the mall by herself," he continued. "No way."
The Lyon family released a statement saying, in part: "The fact that so many people still care about this case means a great deal to us. We are grateful for any information the public can provide to help bring this story to its conclusion."
Investigators are asking anyone who came across Lloyd Welch who also went by the name "Michael" to come forward. You can dial 1-800-CALL-FBI OR submit a tip online at http://tips.fbi.gov.