Aug. 31, Officer Monte Lane with the Cherokee Village Police Department said he stopped a person who was walking in front of Clyde's Chuckwagon Restaurant around 6 a.m. in Highland. He said the suspect, later identified as Justin Stewart, told Lane he had been walking all night looking for a police officer. Lane said he simply stopped to see if he needed anything.
Stewart told Lane that he had an altercation with William Welch over money. He also said that Welch had been bringing items to the home with which he shared with Stewart and bragging about the stolen items. Stewart said there was also several guns and jewelry at the Welch home located at 320 Wilderness Drive in Highland.
Officers from the Sharp County Sheriff's Department, with the assistance of Highland Police Chief Jeremy Stevens, executed the warrant. Jewelry was found in Welch's son, Chris Welch's room, which he and his girlfriend claimed they had received from William Welch. One of the items located was a man's Seiko watch engraved T. Pedano.
While officers were executing the warrant, Welch returned home and immediately began fleeing at the sight of the police vehicles. Due to the fact that Welch also had an outstanding warrant from Craighead County, officers went pursued him. Welch led police in a high speed chase on FM-101 Road. Welch then lost control of the Geo Storm he was driving and began fleeing on foot where he was apprehended shortly thereafter.
Guidry said there were various items in the back seat of the car, including a gun. At this point, Welch was arrested and the car he was driving, which had ficticious tags, was taken to the Sharp County impound yard.
On Sept. 1, a search warrant for Welch's Geo Storm was obtained and the search yielded numerous items including a flat screen television, a 410 shotgun, an air compressor and several tools, as well as a black box which had been described to officers by Stewart containing a bag of numerous pieces of jewelry, including a woman's Rolex watch.
It was later discovered that Aug. 5, Sharon Pedano had reported a burglary at her home. Pedano came into the sheriff's office and identified several items of jewelry, including the engraved watch.
After being advised of is Miranda Rights by Detective's Mark Counts and Ken Guidry, Welch waived his rights and spoke with the detectives. He told the men he ran because he was "high and scared." He also claimed he had been set up by Stewart, claiming he was the one who put the items in the car. He continued to change his story during the interview and based on that information, Guidry was charged with residential burglary of the Pedano home, possession of a firearm by a felon, felony fleeing and resisting arrest.
The value of the property returned to Pedano was $900. $3,000 in jewelry has yet to be claimed. Welch refused to give detectives further information regarding the items.
Welch is currently being held in the Sharp County Jail in lieu of $2,500 bond and $3,130 cash only bond for the Craighead County warrant.