Justin Patrick Welch's escape friom custody Wednesday morning was aided by the carelessness of the two guards who were hired to bring the accused murdered back to Wisconsin, according to law-enfocement officials.
It allowed the fugitive to escape with a vehicle, a gun, money, a cell phone, a change of clothes and documentation that provided his positive identification, allowing for a certain ease in evading officers.
After stopping at a highway rest stop, in violation of procedure, a lone guard escorted the five inmates into the bathroom, while his colleague remained asleep inside the vehicle. Welch used the opportunity to stab and beat the guard, steal his gun, wallet and cell phone, and then shoot at the unarmed guard in the van.
Police are unsure how Welch attained the weapon used to stab the guard, a scredriver-type instrument, but said he might have found it at the rest stop.
Lt. Brent Grill said that when law enforcement arrived at the scene, transport officers could not provide Welch's date of birth, Social Security number of point of pickup because that paperwork was inside the van when it was stolen. Other inmates in the van when Welch was picked up provided authorities with the information that he was turned over in San Diego.
The van contained two uniforms and civilian clothing. Police said one of the guards was similar in build to Welch, possibly providing him with a change of clothing to discard the green inmate jumpsuit he was wearig.
Welch also stole a black jacket from a civilian who was inside the bathroom at the time of the incident.