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Story Archives: Accused murderer on the run
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|Accused murderer on the run|
The Vidalia Police Department issued a search warrant Tuesday for a 41-year-old convicted sex offender in the gruesome murder of Michael W. Welch of Vidalia.
Welch's body was found at his 804 Myrtle Street home in Vidalia on Sunday. According to the arrest warrant filed at the Clerk of Court's office by investigator Randy Stockman, the suspect -- Michael Kelly Stevens, formerly of Houston, Tex. -- is believed to have killed Welch, 52, "by lacerating his throat with a knife that was found at the scene."
The affidavit states that investigators found "blue jean shorts and shoes with blood smears on them" in a room in Welch's home along with personal documents belonging to Stevens, including his Bible, a check sub and personal photographs. Neighbors said Stevens was seen mowing the lawn in clothing similar to that later found at the crime scene.
The affidavit also says that Stevens failed to contact his probation officer on Friday and that Stevens' mother has been unable to reach him.
Law enforcement officials believe Welch may have been dead two to three days before his body was found by his brother, Darrell Welch, who stopped by to check on him. Michael Welch was disabled.
Vidalia Police Chief Ronnie G. "Tapper" Hendricks said Stevens had been staying with the victim in recent months and used the 804 Myrtle Street address when registering with the Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office as a sex offender. Stevens is described as a white male, 6-ft., 1-in. tall, 210 lbs., having brown hair and blue eyes.
Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office Investigator David Hedricks said it is believed Stevens fled in Welch's truck, a silver 2006 Chevy Silverado, Louisiana license plate number W746162.
Welch's body has been sent to the Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office for an autopsy.
Stevens was arrested in Concordia in April 2005, two months after he moved here, for fondling a 5-year-old girl at the Vidalia Meadows Apartments on the outskirts of Vidalia. The sheriff's office reported at the time that another resident of the apartment complex heard the little girl shouting, "Let me go," and stopped Stevens who then lived at Apt. 17, Vidalia Meadows, Hwy. 84, Vidalia.
Stevens was convicted on charges of indecent behavior with a juvenile and failure to register as a sex offender. He was incarcerated at the Concordia Parish Correctional Facility from April 2005 through October 2007.
Almost two decades before Stevens moved to Concordia, a jury in Houston convicted Stevens on Oct. 16, 1987, in the sexual assault of a child, according to Donna Hawkins of the Harris County District Attorney's office. Stevens was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the sexual assault.
The Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office is assisting in the homicide investigation. Anyone with any information pertaining to this case is urged to contact Investigator Randy Stockman with the Vidalia Police Department (318-336-5254) or Investigator David Hedrick with the Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office (318-336-5231).
|Frank Morris Murder Series|