LEWISTON, Idaho (CBS/KLEW) Police in Kennewick, Wash. believe they have solved the 28-year cold case of Rose Baugh, a 25-year-old woman whose father found her strangled, face down in her bathtub on March 7, 1982.
On Tuesday they arrested Jack L. Welch, a former companion of Rose's and charged him with first degree murder.
Kennewick police reports say Welch has long been a suspect in the March 1982 death, but Kennewick Police Sgt. Ken Lattin said there wasn't enough evidence to make an arrest until earlier this year when police took a DNA sample from Welch at his parents' home.
That sample apparently matched semen taken from Baugh in the murder investigation.
Keith Baugh and his wife Ruby have waited 28 years to find out who was responsible for their daughter's brutal murder and see that person brought to justice, but justice might not be as close as it seems, Welch has been bedridden since 2001 after suffering a traumatic brain injury in a fall and has brain damage. He cannot eat or speak and requires 24-hour care, CBS affiliate KLEW reports.
Rose's father Keith is the one who found her after going to look for her when she didn't show up for a family birthday party. He went to her house and found the back door unlocked and heard water running. He followed that sound and found his daughter face down in her bathtub, dead, according to The News Tribune.
Tuesday afternoon, Welch appeared via video in 2nd District Court from a bed at the jail, according to the station.
Because the jail lacks facilities to take care of him, Welch was released on his own recognizance.
Investigators say the evidence is clear he is the one who savagely beat and strangled 25-year-old Rose Baugh. The two had been acquaintances, and Welch had been one of many suspects.
Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller says just a few months ago, "tests came back matching Jack Welch's DNA. And with evidence from the crime scene, put together with other evidence led us to believe we had enough evidence to charge him."
It's unclear what the next step will be, said Nez Perce County Jail Commander Capt. Steve Lutes, noting Welch could be extradited to Washington.
Miller said Welch likely will have his physical and mental competence evaluated to determine if he's competent to stand trial. If a judge determines Welch is not competent and it's unlikely he will become competent, the murder charges would be dismissed, Miller said according to The News Tribune.