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Alleged child abductor Welch avoids Spokane court, gives TV interviews

Richard L. Welch wasn’t feeling well enough to go to court Thursday but was well enough to grant television interviews professing his innocence on a charge that he kidnapped a 2-year-old boy from his home early Wednesday.

He used a similar court-delay excuse in February after police arrested him for threatening a man with a dagger. Every day the judge was told that Welch was “not portable” and couldn’t come to court.

After three days, jailers released Welch because he hadn’t made his first court appearance within 72 hours, as the law requires.

Welch is under closer scrutiny this time. He is due in court today, and court officials said they will attempt to have him appear before a judge first for bail consideration.

Welch is accused of abducting the boy and taking him to his motel apartment. Police suspect the boy may have been sexually assaulted.

He drove the child to a Zip Trip in Airway Heights at about 4:30 a.m. A clerk who recognized Welch and knew he didn’t have children took the boy away and called police.

According to court documents, the clerk told police that Welch told him the boy had been sexually abused. The clerk also noticed that the boy’s pajamas were on inside out, documents say.

In the February case, Welch was accused of waving a knife at a man at the same Airway Heights Zip Trip.

Welch told police Wednesday that he found the boy wandering near Wellesley Avenue and Lincoln Street around 3 a.m. and took him back to his motel room in Airway Heights. He claimed, however, that the child was a 7-year-old girl who climbed into his pickup truck when Welch offered to help the child find his parents.

Once the Zip Trip clerk took the boy, Welch called police first, at 4:31 a.m., to report that he had found a child.

After checking on the child, the clerk called police at 4:36 a.m.

According to court documents, Welch then left the Zip Trip and drove to the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, where he told several employees that he had taken a child to his motel apartment. VA employees called police and kept Welch there until officers arrived to arrest him. Welch was wearing women’s underwear.

The boy’s parents awoke to find their toddler son missing from his bedroom and called police at 5:20 a.m.

The boy had last been seen at midnight, court documents state.

When the boy’s parents arrived at the hospital where their son was being examined, the mother noticed that a blanket the boy had with him was one she had folded and put away in a closet the night before. His mother told police that the shelf was high and could not have been reached by her son, documents say.

According to court documents, the mother told police that she thought she heard someone knocking at the front door at some point during the night. Her husband told her she was probably hearing things because the dog wasn’t barking, so they did not get up to check.

Detectives believe Welch contacted the child at the home, according to police spokeswoman Monique Cotton. Investigators are still trying to determine if Welch entered the home, lured the child outside, or picked up the child wandering outside.

According to police, Welch has been a frequent suspect in more than 40 cases involving stalking, child luring, indecent exposure, harassment and lewd conduct.

Court documents in the February case indicated that Welch’s mother said he is bipolar and is supposed to be taking medication. He is reportedly not welcome at the homes of any of his family members.