The true story of a cold case, a compulsive liar, and five determined detectives, from the #1 New York Times–bestselling author and “master journalist” (The Wall Street Journal).
On March 29, 1975, sisters Katherine and Sheila Lyons, ages ten and twelve, vanished from a shopping mall in suburban Washington, DC As shock spread, then grief, a massive police effort found nothing. The investigation was shelved, and the mystery endured.
Then, in 2013, a cold case squad detective found something he and a generation of detectives had missed. It pointed them toward a man named Lloyd Welch, then serving time for child molestation in Delaware.
The acclaimed author of Black Hawk Down and Hue 1968 had been a cub reporter for a Baltimore newspaper at the time of the original disappearance, and covered the frantic first weeks of the story. In The Last Stone, he returns to write its ending. Over months of intense questioning and extensive investigation of Welch’s sprawling, sinister Appalachian clan, five skilled detectives learned to sift truth from determined lies. How do you get a compulsive liar with every reason in the world to lie to tell the truth? The Last Stone recounts a masterpiece of criminal interrogation, and delivers a chilling and unprecedented look inside a disturbing criminal mind.
“One of our best writers of muscular nonfiction.” —The Denver Post
“Deeply unsettling . . . Bowden displays his tenacity as a reporter in his meticulous documentation of the case. But in the story of an unimaginably horrific crime, it’s the detectives’ unwavering determination to bring Welch to justice that offers a glimmer of hope on a long, dark journey.” —Time
Bowden (Black Hawk Down) delivers a narrative nonfiction masterpiece in this account of fiercely dedicated police detectives working to close a cold case. In 1975, Sheila Lyon, 12, and her sister Katherine, 10, disappeared from a shopping mall in Maryland. Despite reported sightings and extortion attempts, the Lyon sisters' fate remained a mystery for decades. The break came in 2013, when Montgomery County detective Chris Homrock chanced upon a witness statement that he'd somehow missed. Shortly after the disappearance, then-teenager Lloyd Welch told the police that he'd seen a man talking to two young girls, who then left the mall with him. At the time, Welch was dismissed as a liar, and his account was forgotten. The police found Welch serving time in Delaware for sexually abusing a minor years earlier. Though he was initially viewed as a possible source to incriminate the man who was viewed as the leading suspect in the abductions, Welch's contradictory stories, told over the course of multiple interrogations, ended up making him a person of interest. Bowden makes extensive use of taped recordings of those conversations to bring the reader inside the interrogation room as the detectives inch closer to the truth. This is an intelligent page-turner likely to appeal even to readers who normally avoid true crime.
The last Stone
The detective's patience in solving this cold case was other worldly. Bowden's writing about the tale gave them the credit they so richly deserved.