One of the two guards entrusted with transporting suspected murderer Justin Patrick Welch back to Wisconsin was asleep in the van while his colleague was attacked and disarmed during a rest stop in Arkansas Wednesday morning.
Marian Pullian, 35, of North Atlantic Extradition, was sleeping in the transport van when it pulled over in Van Buren, Arkansas to make a bathroom stop for the five inmates in their custody. Guard Michael Nowland, 29, took the prisoners into the restroom by himself. Police could not comment on the transport company's policy, but noted "Common sense tells you that's probably a policy violation. It's safe to say they should not have done that," Lt. Brent Grill of the Van Buren Police Dept. offered.
Welch, who is accused of murdering Kim Smith of Oconomowoc, then stabbed Nowland in the hand with a tool resembling a screw driver, and took his gun. He stole a jacket from a civilian in the bathroom, took keys from the guard, removed his leg irons and fled outside.
The guard told investigators he was asleep when Welch entered the driver’s side of the van, and was not even aware they had make the stop. Welch pointed the gun at the guard who exited the vehicle before being shot at twice by Welch.
Authorities said this morning that the van has not been recovered and that there have been no confirmed sightings of Welch, despite a television report of him in the Amarillo area.