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Person of interest arises in decades-old unsolved missing children case

Tuesday - 2/11/2014, 11:11am  ET

Remembering the coverage

WTOP's Dave McConnell remembers the Lyon girls disappearance

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WASHINGTON -- Two Montgomery County sisters who went missing nearly 40 years ago made headlines Monday when officials said a "significant development" would be announced Tuesday.

Known colloquially as "The Lyon sisters," 12-year-old Sheila Lyon and her 10-year-old sister Katherine disappeared in March 1975, after heading to the Westfield Wheaton Mall, then called Wheaton Plaza. They were never seen again.

The investigation into the disappearance became one of the largest in the D.C. region's history, says WTOP reporter Dave McConnell, who covered the story 39 years ago.

"That's when parents started walking their kids to school," McConnell says.

"I'm searching my mind for anything like it besides the sniper shootings."

On Monday afternoon, Montgomery County police released a statement saying a person-of-interest had been identified. The person, a convicted child sex offender who is in prison, was at the mall the day of the disappearance, police say.

McConnell says the disappearance changed Montgomery County and the area as a whole.

"It was an extraordinary coming-out time. Everyone became much more suspicious," he says. "It was an end of innocence."

Authorities will hold a press conference on Tuesday to discuss the development. They ask anyone with information about the suspect contact them.

Authorities have not identified the man.

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Tags: kidnappingpolicecrime