Greenwood County homicide suspect faced preliminary hearing for kidnapping, assault charges

10/03/2013 12:40 PM

08/06/2014 8:42 AM

Authorities on Thursday located an SUV sought after the fatal shooting of a Eureka couple and the critical wounding of a 26-year-old woman in rural Greenwood County, but by evening had no luck finding its driver – a Toronto, Kan., man implicated in the slaying.

Kevin Robert Welsh, 35, remained at large Thursday, a day after a 52-year-old woman and her 54-year-old husband were killed at 1575 130th St., near Eureka, a woman who answered the phone at the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office said.

The dead woman’s daughter, who survived the attack, remained in the hospital Thursday, the woman at the sheriff’s office said. The man killed was identified as her stepfather. Their names have not been released.

The sheriff’s office confirmed that authorities recovered a vehicle driven by Welsh sometime Thursday. It had been abandoned, the woman said, but she did not say where or give the time it was found. Authorities had been searching for a late-model gold-colored Ford Explorer with a veterans tag of 20AXY and 20-inch after-market rims, sheriff’s Detective Josh Nelson said earlier in the day.

Welsh’s location, however, remained unclear. The search for him continued late Thursday evening.

A woman who answered the phone Thursday at the Greenwood County Attorney’s Office said the shooting is connected to a criminal case in which Welsh is the defendant. Court records show that Welsh was facing a preliminary hearing later this month on three counts of kidnapping, three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and criminal threat, stemming from an Aug. 23 incident.

Bond in that case was set at $50,000, records show, and Welsh posted bond on Sept. 3. He was due back in Greenwood County District Court on Oct. 29.

Asked about charges in the August kidnapping and assault case against Welsh, the Greenwood County Attorney’s Office referred all calls to the state Attorney General’s Office. That office did not immediately respond to an interview request.

In an e-mailed news release late Wednesday, the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office said the shooting occurred at a Eureka-area residence. The agency gave this account:

At about 7:24 p.m. Wednesday, deputies were dispatched to a report of a burglary, and while en route, a victim called 911 to report that multiple shots had been fired and that multiple people were injured.

Deputies found two people with gunshot wounds, and they were pronounced dead at the scene. A third person suffered gunshot wounds and was taken by air ambulance to Wesley Medical Center with critical injuries.

The Eureka Herald reported that the survivor – later identified as the 26-year-old woman – was shot multiple times and sustained a shattered wrist and knee following a vehicle accident. An update on her condition was not available from Wesley on Thursday.

Officers from a number of local and state agencies were assisting at the scene and in efforts to catch Welsh, according to the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office. The search covered a swath of land around the shooting scene, and even stretched into Sedgwick County.

Amid concerns “a person of interest (in the case) may be in Park City,” Chisholm Trail Elementary, 6015 Independence, locked its front door Thursday and held recess indoors, Wichita public schools spokeswoman Susan Arensman said via e-mail. School security officers and Park City police also held guard outside of the school throughout the day, she said.

“Law enforcement encouraged us to lock down ... ,” Arensman wrote. “This was strictly precautionary and there was no imminent danger to the school.”

Asked whether the school would be on lockdown Friday, Arensman replied: “We will consult with law enforcement to determine that tomorrow.”

Park City police Lt. Henry Spurlock declined to release any other information about the search or additional security at the school, saying it “might jeopardize the investigation.”

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