Lufkin man to plead guilty to murder of Elisha Henson Monday

Lufkin man to plead guilty to murder of Elisha Henson Monday
Rosalind Smith (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Rosalind Smith (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Elisha Henson (Source: Henson family)
Elisha Henson (Source: Henson family)

ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - According to his defense attorney, the 23-year-old Lufkin man charged in connection to the death of Elisha Henson, 30, is scheduled to plead guilty to a murder charge on Monday.

“It will be a plea hearing in which he is pleading guilty to the murder,” said Welch's defense attorney, Al Charanza.

Welch was captured in San Antonio back in June and transported to the Angelina County Jail the next day. Initially, his bail was set at $250,000, but it has since been reduced to $100,000.

A group of children discovered Henson's body in a wooded area in the Rivercrest community on May 10, 2014. Henson was last seen driving her vehicle on April 27, 2014, and her family filed a missing person report on May 1.

While being transported to the Angelina County Jail, Welch stated that he was innocent.

"I really hope they find out who did it. I really do, with all my heart. I mean that," Welch said.

According to the arrest affidavit, Welch strangled Henson by putting an electrical cord around her neck on April 26.

Welch was interviewed by Texas Rangers Steve Rayburn and Travis Brazil at the Angelina County Sheriff's Office on May 12, 2014. Lt. Pete Maskunas of the Angelina County Sheriff reviewed the recordings and determined there were a number of inconsistencies between Rosalind Welch Smith and Welch's accounts of what happened on April 26.

Initially, Welch said he knew Henson but had not seen her in several months. In addition, Welch told the Texas Rangers that Henson had tried to have sex with him, but he refused because she had AIDS, according to the affidavit.

"He was confronted with his feeling regarding her having the AIDS virus and spreading it by having unprotected sex, and he stated he told her it was a crime," the affidavit stated. "After he was told about her death, he was asked again about he felt about her having AIDS and having unprotected sex, he stated he didn't think she should die for it but should maybe be sent to a psych ward."

Later, Welch admitted to letting Henson give him oral sex for a short amount of time. He also told the Texas Rangers that he was concerned that he may have contracted the AIDS virus and that he felt "cheated" because he couldn't have sex with his girlfriend as a result of that possibility.

Welch's version of the story also confirmed much of what Smith told authorities about what happened on the evening of April 26. However, he also said that on the way back from the house in Lufkin, Henson gave him oral sex.

"[Welch] gave information which indicated he knew that Elisha's body was disposed of using her vehicle or a truck, but at no time was it mentioned that her vehicle was used by anyone to dispose of the body," the affidavit stated. "He said he hoped her vehicle would have physical evidence that would clear him of murder. This would indicate knowledge of the method of disposing of the body and confirmed [Smith's] account."

According to the affidavit, Welch took several steps to prevent his DNA from being taken, including putting his cigarette butts and the top portion of his coffee cup in his pocket. After being told about the possibility of his DNA being present on Henson's body, Welch allegedly agreed to be swabbed for a DNA profile.

In addition, the affidavit stated that Welch deleted several messages from his cell phone before he talked to law enforcement. Although he initially said it was because "be didn't want to get in trouble for drug-related texts," he admitted to deleting several texts from Smith that had been sent to him in the week immediately after Henson's death.

Welch also claimed that he didn't know about Henson's death before he came to the sheriff's office to talk to the Texas Rangers, according to the affidavit. The murder suspect also told authorities that he is afraid of what he might do while he is "blacked out on a drug binge."

"Finally, [Welch] was asked by Ranger Rayburn if thought he was going to jail for murder, and [Welch stated, 'If I was in your shoes, that's what I do would do,'" the affidavit stated. "[Welch] believed the person guilty of the murder should get some jail time but should get out when they were too old to hurt anyone, and they should get some counseling."

Smith, Welch's co-conspirator, was also charged with murder. When Smith was arrested in May of 2014, she was originally charged with tampering with evidence and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

2015 KTRE. All rights reserved.