A man convicted last week of murdering a Davenport woman in 2007 is now a “person of interest” in two other unsolved homicides in the area involving female victims, police said.
A Scott County jury found 34-year-old Chad Welsh of Burlington guilty Tuesday of first-degree murder and other charges related to the death of 41-year-old Angela Hennes.
“There are open cases in Davenport, and Mr. Welsh is being looked at as a person of interest,” Davenport police Lt. Gene Wall said last week. “I expect agencies between here and Burlington are now looking at him if they have unsolved cases.”
Welsh testified that he had made the 80-mile trip from Burlington to Davenport several times to look for prostitutes. He said he picked up Hennes on Jan. 3, 2007, the day she was reported missing.
Her burned remains were discovered 10 days later in a farm field outside the Davenport city limits. She had a plastic zip tie around her neck, and an autopsy revealed she had been strangled.
Wall said the killing of Hennes resembled in some ways the death of two other Quad-City women: Agnes McFedries Kennedy and Yvonne “Bonnie” Nicholson. All three were strangled.
Wall said the three cases also are connected because the
victims were known or convicted prostitutes.
Kennedy’s body was found in the north alley of the 1800 block of West 8th Street, Davenport, on Dec. 22, 2007.
Nicholson’s body was found in the Mississippi River off Davenport’s South Concord Street on Nov. 12, 2001.
According to testimony at his trial, Welsh had been to Davenport as early as 2001 and he had at least one previous violent encounter with another
He testified that he hit a prostitute with a rubber mallet because they couldn’t agree on a price for her services.
He said that sometimes he was with more than one prostitute a night. He also said he liked to engage in “breath-control play,” or choking, during sex.
Police testified Welsh also took explicit photos of women.
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Davenport police waited for the trial to end before taking Welsh’s file from the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, which had investigated the Hennes case. Wall said a “person of interest” is not the same as a suspect.
“We’re looking through information that came out of that trial, clues that might help us in these other cases,” Wall said, while thumbing through Welsh’s thick file now sitting on his desk.
Wall did not divulge what specific details investigators are considering with regard to the Kennedy and Nicholson cases. He said it’s more important now to keep Welsh’s photo out there in case anyone has information to report to police.
Another person of interest
Though Welsh is being looked at as part of the investigation into Kennedy’s death, police are not ruling out the possible involvement of a man serving life in prison on federal drug charges.
Wall said last week that Jesse James Stewart, 61, of Davenport is also a person of interest in Kennedy’s death.
Stewart was convicted in 2009 after telling authorities he was trying to wean prostitutes from their crack cocaine addiction by providing it to them in controlled doses.
U.S. District Judge John Jarvey said at Stewart’s sentencing July 1, 2009, that there was “no question” Stewart traded crack for sex and took explicit photos of the women.
Detectives investigating Kennedy’s death in December 2007 searched Stewart’s home at 1831 W. 6th St., a building Kennedy was known to frequent and a block away from where her body was found. Police found crack cocaine, which resulted in Stewart’s federal drug charges.
Police also seized Stewart’s Ford Taurus and a computer as part of the homicide investigation, federal court records show.
Wall said Stewart and Kennedy were acquaintances.
Kennedy’s mom reacts
Kennedy’s mother, Jean McFedries, said Friday that she wasn’t surprised to hear that Welsh is being looked at in regard to her daughter’s death.
“It’s just a fluke they found him,” McFedries said, referring to Welsh’s DNA match to Hennes four years after her death. “God only knows what else he’s done.”
McFedries added, “I’m just glad he’s off the street.”
Welsh is set to be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. May 16. He will serve the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.
No one has been charged in connection with the deaths of Kennedy or Nicholson.