AP Nation / World

Aug 17, 7:13 AM EDT

Woman found guilty of perjury during probe of 1975 slayings


BEDFORD, Va. (AP) -- A woman accused of impeding an investigation into the slayings of two missing Maryland sisters 41 years ago has been found guilty of perjury.

Patricia Welch entered an Alford plea in a Bedford County, Virginia, courtroom Tuesday to the perjury charge that she faced following her 2014 grand jury testimony, news outlets reported.

In an Alford Plea, the defendant doesn't admit guilt but acknowledges there is enough evidence for a conviction.

Welch was given a two-year prison sentence, with all time suspended. She also must pay a $1,000 fine.

Patricia is the wife of Richard Welch, who's a person of interest in the investigation into the slayings of 12-year-old Sheila Lyon and 10-year-old Katherine Lyon. The sisters were walking from their house in March 1975 to the Wheaton Plaza Mall. The girls never came home and no bodies were found.

Prosecutors said Patricia Welch lied by testifying she had never spoken to witnesses about whether they should cooperate with the investigation.

Richard Welch's nephew, Lloyd Lee "Michael" Welch, Jr. of Delaware, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Authorities say the suspect was at the mall the day the girls vanished and was seen paying attention to them.

Patricia Welch yelled the words "I'm so happy" as she left the courthouse Tuesday, WDBJ-TV reported (http://bit.ly/2bmsp2c ).

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