On the same day as family and friends paid their final respects to a former law enforcement officer gunned down July 7, his alleged killer made his first appearance in District Court Monday morning in Jacksonville.
Will James Welch Jr., 18 of Runnymeade Drive in Jacksonville has been charged with murder and is accused of shooting to death and inflicting blunt force trauma to William Joseph Clifton, 48, of Richlands. Clifton’s body was discovered in the Woodlands Park in Jacksonville at 6:30 a.m. on July 7.
Welch-who lived with his parents--resided less than two miles from the alleged crime scene. An address listed for Clifton on his death certificate listed a Chappell Creek residence in Richlands Township some 14 miles away from the alleged crime scene.
In a two-minute hearing before District Court Judge Henry L. Stevens lV, Welsh-dressed in an Onslow County Jail orange jumpsuit--answered the court’s questions as to his competency and legal representation. Stevens asked Welch if he had an attorney to which the defendant responded: “I’m going to talk to my mom. She was going to help me out.” Steven’s asked if Welch’s parents were in the courtroom garnering an affirmative nod from a couple seated in the front row behind Welch.
Stevens denied Welch a bond returning the teenager to the Onslow County Jail. Stevens set Welch’s next court date for Aug. 7.
Clifton’s funeral service and burial were scheduled for Monday.
The Daily News reported June 12, that Clifton was being investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation for accusations of indecent liberties with a 12-year-old which occurred between October 2015 and February 2016. It was also in February 2016 that Clifton officially resigned from the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office for “personal reasons,” which Sherriff Hans Miller said wasn’t connected to the multiple restraining orders against Clifton alleging Arrest made in former deputy’s death.
Before his murder arrest on July 14, Welch was known to local law enforcement agencies. Welch was charged by the Jacksonville Police Department with misdemeanor injury to real property on July 8 and is scheduled to appear in District Court on Aug. 9. According to warrants, Welch is alleged to have damaged concrete sidewalks, windows and sides of buildings at Jacksonville High School on June 17.
In a second case, Welch was charged by JPD on June 30 with misdemeanor possession of marijuana up to ½ ounce, possession of marijuana paraphernalia and resisting a public officer. According to warrants, Welch was observed on June 30 by JPD officers on Davis Street in the city in possession of a package of cigarillos laced with marijuana. Welch refused orders to get out of his car and began pulling away before a second officer assisted in removing Welch from the vehicle. Welch is scheduled to appear in District Court for those charges on Aug. 16, according to The North Carolina Court System.
Welch does not have any adult convictions in the State of North Carolina, according to the North Carolina Department Of Public Safety Offender Public Information website.
JPD Capt. Ashley Weaver, who is the investigative service supervisor said July 14, “This continues to be an open and active investigation. We anticipate additional arrests pending further investigation. We will release additional information when we are able to.”
No additional arrests had been made as of Monday morning.
The reward for information in this case could total up to $5,000. The Jacksonville Police Department has added a $2,500 to the Crime Stoppers reward for information about the shooting. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact JPD Detective Daniel Karratti at 910-938-6410 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Crime Stoppers at 910-938-3273. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and never have to reveal their identities. Information can also be anonymously texted via Text a Tip by typing TIP4CSJAX and your message to 274637 (CRIMES).
Daily News Reporter Mike McHugh can be reached at 910-219-8455 or email email@example.com.