KENNEWICK — A judge in Washington state has ordered an evaluation of an Idaho man accused of killing his girlfriend 28 years ago to determine if he’s competent to stand trial.
Authorities say a DNA match led to the arrest last week of Jack L. Welch in the 1982 strangulation death of 25-year-old Rose Baugh, who was found dead in her bathtub by her father.
Welch, 56, of Lewiston, is confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak. He requires 24-hour care since an accident in 2001. He made his initial appearance Tuesday in Benton County District Court in Kennewick.
Welch is to be evaluated at Eastern Washington State Hospital to determine if he’s competent to stand trial.
Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller said Welch was allowed to return to Lewiston after the hearing and is free on his own recognizance.
Miller said he might not ask for bail in the case, and that Baugh’s family has accepted that Welch might not be competent to stand trial.
“The family certainly wants to see justice,” Miller said. “But they realize justice may come from a different source.”
Police said Welch was interviewed in 1982 and told investigators he and Baugh had sex several days before she died. According to police reports, witnesses said Welch and Baugh had a history of domestic violence. Police say the two were not dating at the time of her death.
A detective in Washington began working on the unsolved case in 2005. Police said a DNA test on Baugh’s underwear found a match with Welch.
Police in Lewiston say Welch has lived in Lewiston since at least 1993.