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Sheriff: East Texas Woman Killed Because Of HIV Status

Updated: Wednesday, June 18 2014, 11:17 AM CDT

An East Texas man is behind bars; accused of killing a woman after learning she had HIV.

22-year-old Justin Welch was booked into the Angelina County jail Tuesday. He and a second suspect, Rosalind Welch Smith, both face charges in the death of 30-year-old Elisha Henson, whose body was found in the woods near Angelina River in early May.

An arrest affidavit released by the Angelina County Sheriff's department shows that Welch knowingly placed an electric cord around Henson's neck to cut off blood circulation, which resulted in her death.

The charges came last Thursday. Smith was immediately brought into custody for the role she may have played in the murder, but, Welch went on the run. Sheriff Greg Sanches says for the last six days welch has been hiding in the San Antonio area. "You know everyone is innocent until proven guilty in the court of law. And normally I expect everyone to say they didn't do it," says Sheriff Sanches.

Authorities believe that Henson's positive HIV status was the motive behind her death. The affidavit also states that Smith told investigators that Welch was shocked when he overheard Smith and Henson talking about her status. Smith told investigators she saw Welch murder Henson. And that she even asked him why he did it. She said he responded, "…she had AIDS and she's killing other people." Welch is maintaining his innocence. "I really hope they find out who did it. With all my heart I mean that," he says. He went on to say he loved his family, and "…we'll find out what happened."

Sanches says the investigation isn't closed just yet. "If people out there do know something out there, it would be very wise for them to come forward and contact law enforcement," says Sheriff Sanches.

Welch is being held on a $250,000 bond.

Sheriff: East Texas Woman Killed Because Of HIV Status


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