SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash.—Police arrested one man Wednesday morning after a two-year old boy went missing. Authorities believe the toddler was abducted from his North Spokane home and sexually assaulted by Richard L. Welch, 55. The boy was later dropped off at an Airway Heights gas station.
Spokane County dispatchers received three separate 911 calls about the toddler before 5:30 a.m.
- 4:31 a.m.: Welch called Spokane police and claimed he had located the child near Wellesley and Lincoln.
- 4:36 a.m.: An employee at an Airway Heights gas station called Airway Heights police. The employee said Welch entered the business with a child.
- 5:20 a.m.: The toddler’s mother called Spokane police to report the child missing.
Officers believed Welch abducted the child from his parents' home in Spokane. Police said they believe Welch took the child from the boy's home to his home at the All Season’s Motel in Airway Heights. Welch eventually took the child with him to an Airway Heights convenience store, according to investigators. Police said Welch then left the child with a clerk. A convenience store clerk called 911 to report the suspicious activity around 4:36 a.m.
“This is a good case where someone was astute enough to recognize that this individual shouldn't have a child and took the affirmative step to make sure the child was safe, “said Captain Brad Arleth with the Spokane Police Department.
Welch is accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting the boy. The child was later evaluated at the hospital. Wednesday night, the boy was reportedly home safe with his family.
“The family is unknown to Mr. Welch. At some point, he spotted them, perhaps stalked them, and went to the house in the very early morning hours and did abduct the child,” said Arleth.
Court documents said the suspect is “well-known” to police. He has a long criminal history including child luring, trespassing, stalking, and indecent exposure. SPD said Welch lives in Airway Heights.
Officers searched Welch's home and seized a candy wrapper, bedding and spandex fishnet tights.
Welch was arrested for First Degree Kidnapping and is in the Spokane County Jail. Police said Welch had a lengthy criminal past including indecent exposure, domestic violence and assault.