Police Hope Tulsa's Meth Community Will Help Solve Murder
TULSA, Oklahoma - Sergeant Dave Walker calls it a horrific and fascinating story.
Tulsa Police say someone bludgeoned Christen Welch to death with a pipe, then set her on fire September of last year. She'd been living in an abandoned house in West Tulsa -- no electricity, no water.
Firefighters found her surrounded by empty gas cans and homemade weapons -- a club and a ball with nails sticking out.
"She was probably knocked out, and pretty close to death when the fire started," said Walker.
This time last year, Walker was convinced a ring of teen burglars, running rampant in West Tulsa, committed the crime. Walker said the teens admitted burglarizing an old woman's home, and "must have killed the old lady" -- but it wasn't Welch.
His detectives have followed leads to catch Welch's killer. The result -- drug and burglary arrests and recovered stolen cars.
"It is good, but it didn't solve the murder."
A year later, Walker is looking to Welch for a new motive: he says her drug of choice was methamphetamine, and that community in Tulsa is stronger than many suspect.
"Give us the answer we want and we'll get out of here. This group has not given us the answer we want, so we keep picking at them, and eventually we'll get there," Walker said. "But how long that takes, I don't know."
Walker says Welch has ties to Claremore, Verdigris and towns out east, where he's now looking.
"To be honest with you, I don't know that we've kicked the right rock."
This time last year, we spoke with Welch's cousin. She described Welch as loving and caring -- especially toward her own children. Walker knows the family needs closure, and hopes to give it to them soon.