Police jailed a man with a history of lewd conduct and child luring for the alleged early Wednesday kidnapping of a 2-year-old boy from his home on North Lincoln Street.
The boy’s parents awoke at 5:20 a.m. to find their child missing from his bed and called police.
By that time a store clerk at a Zip Trip convenience store in Airway Heights had already taken the child away from Richard L. Welch, 55, and called police, according to court records.
The clerk knew Welch and knew he didn’t have children, said Spokane police Capt. Brad Arleth.
“He actually took the child from the suspect,” he said. The clerk called police at about 4:30 a.m.
Police suspect Welch – who is a stranger to the family – may have stalked the boy.Welch also called police shortly before the convenience store clerk did to report that he had found a child wandering near Wellesley Avenue and Lincoln Street, Arleth said.
“We believe the suspect called police after the child was taken from him,” Arleth said.
The child was taken to a local hospital because police believed Welch had taken him earlier to his apartment at the All Seasons Motel in Airway Heights and may have assaulted him. When Welch was arrested he was wearing women’s undergarments, and police found lubricant on his motel apartment bed.
Welch has been a suspect in more than 40 cases involving stalking, child luring, assault, indecent exposure, impersonating an officer and lewd conduct. His criminal convictions in Spokane County include harassment, assault, criminal trespassing and attempted criminal impersonation.
Police have had several recent reports about Welch “directing his attention towards young females walking on the street,” documents state.
When first questioned by police, Welch said he believed the child was a 7-year-old girl who he found wandering in north Spokane at 3 a.m. as he drove home from Stateline Showgirls. Rather than call police, Welch said he offered to help the child find her parents. According to police, Welch said the child climbed into his truck and fastened the seat belt.
Based on Welch’s history, the items found in his motel apartment, and the underwear he was wearing, “it is clear that Welch took the child to his apartment to facilitate further assault,” court documents state.
The boy was examined at a local hospital Wednesday and returned to his family.