Authorities: Drugs, victim's HIV motives in Pollok woman's death

Justin Welch (Source: Angelina County Sheriff's Office)
Justin Welch (Source: Angelina County Sheriff's Office)
Rosalind Smith (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Rosalind Smith (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Elisha Henson (Source: Angelina County Sheriff's Office)
Elisha Henson (Source: Angelina County Sheriff's Office)

ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - An arrest warrant on a murder charge has been issued for a Lufkin man in connection to the death of a 30-year-old Pollok woman whose body was found in the Rivercrest community on May 10.

According to Angelina County Sheriff Greg Sanches, an arrest warrant has been issued for Justin Elisha Welch, 22. Sanches said authorities believe Welch has left the Lufkin area and is now in the Austin area.

The victim's name is Elisha Henson.

Sanches also said they filed a murder charge against the 41-year Lufkin woman who was arrested in late May in connection to Henson's death. Rosalind Welch Smith was originally charged with tampering with evidence and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

According to the Smith's arrest affidavit, Smith told investigators the three of them they had gone to a Lufkin home and were getting high on meth when Smith talked to Henson about her having HIV. Welch appeared to have heard the conversation and "appeared astonished to know" Henson had HIV.  Smith told investigators Welch later told Smith that Henson was dead.

Henson's mother Brenda Carrell said when her daughter contracted HIV she made a bad decision, a decision she had to live with for the rest of her life.

"But nobody had the right to take her away from us," Carrell said.

Carrell further explained, that people judged her daughter for illness and that's what led to her drug problem.

"She wanted people to give her a second chance, and nobody would give her a chance at work," Carrell said.

According to the arrest affidavit for Smith's previous charge, Smith drove the 1996 Toyota Camry belonging to Henson for several days knowing that a murder had been committed. The affidavit also stated that the vehicle was used to move Henson's body from a residence in Angelina County to the boat ramp in the River Crest community.

When interviewed by authorities on May 13, Smith told investigators that on April 26 she was told to drive a green 1996 Camry with Henson's body in the back seat, according to the affidavit. The document stated Smith drove the vehicle to the boat ramp where the body was disposed of then Smith continued to drive Henson's vehicle for several days.

The affidavit stated that Smith tried to have the vehicle painted and also destroyed or chopped up but was not able to. On or around the 7th or 8th of May Smith took the vehicle to Groveton where she was able to sell it for scrap.

According to Angelina County jail records, Smith also had three traffic warrants for expired registration, no liability insurance and displaying a fictitious license plate as well as burglary of a habitation.

Smith's arrest record in the county dates back to May 2013, when she was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia and had a warrant for theft by check between $20 and $500.

Smith was picked up again in January 2014 for theft of property between $1,500 and $20,000.

According to the arrest affidavit, Welch and Smith are not related.

In a press release, Sanches said his investigators were assisted by the Texas Department of Criminal Investigations Division, investigators from the local Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission, investigators from the DPS Narcotics Division, Constable Tom Selman, Constable Ray Anthony, Texas Ranger Steve Rayburn, Texas Ranger Travis Brazil, and Crime Scene Specialist Texas Ranger Wendy Wakeman.

Sanches also thanked Jefferson County medical examiners Dr. John Ralston and Dr. John Edwards, Sam Houston State University Forensic Examiner Dr. Joan Bytheway and entomologist Silyl Buchlli.

If you have any information about this case, please call the Angelina County Sheriff's Office at (936) 634-3331.

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