LEWISTON — A DNA match has led to the arrest of a 56-year-old Lewiston man in the 1982 strangulation death of his girlfriend in Kennewick, Wash., authorities say.
Jack L. Welch was briefly booked into the Nez Perce County jail on Tuesday on a first-degree murder warrant. Welch is charged with first-degree murder in Benton County in Washington state.
Police said Welch was taken to jail in an ambulance by Lewiston Fire Department medics to appear before Magistrate Jay P. Gaskill. Welch was then released on his own recognizance after authorities said he wasn’t a flight risk.
Welch has been confined to a wheelchair and unable to eat or speak since suffering a traumatic brain injury in a fall in 2001. Police said Welch requires 24-hour care.
“Our prosecutor will have to work with the court, and determine if he is competent to stand trial,” Kennewick Police Sgt. Ken Lattin said.
Kennewick police reports say Welch has long been a suspect in the March 1982 death of 25-year-old Rose Baugh, who was found strangled in her bathtub.
Lattin said there wasn’t enough evidence to make an arrest until earlier this year when police took a DNA sample from Welch at his parents’ home. That sample apparently matched semen taken from Baugh in the murder investigation.
Lewiston Police Capt. Tom Greene said Welch has lived in Lewiston since at least 1993. Lewiston Police Capt. Tom Greene said Welch was arrested for drunken driving in 1993, but that police have not had much contact with him since his 2001 injury.
It’s unclear what the next step will be, said Nez Perce County Jail Commander Capt. Steve Lutes, noting Welch could be extradited to Washington. Lutes said the Nez Perce County Jail can’t take care of Welch at the same level he’s been receiving at home.