Genoa man murdered Harvard girl, 3, in 1962. He served almost 5 decades in prison. Now he’s out and facing new charges

DeKalb County judge releases Gary C. Welsh, charged with violating Illinois sex act, on recognizance

Gary C. Welsh, 83, of the 100 block of Sycamore Road in Genoa, is charged with two felony counts of luring a minor and misdemeanor unlawful presence of a child sex offender in a public park. Genoa police said they received a report of him sitting on a bench at Durham Park, 25 S. Brown St. just off East Main Street near downtown Genoa on Monday, May 22, 2023. Welsh also served nearly 50 years in prison after he was convicted in 1973 of the 1962 murder of 3-year-old Harvard girl. (Inset photo provided by DeKalb County Jail)

GENOA – A Genoa registered sex offender on probation after spending almost five decades in prison for the 1962 sexually motivated murder of a 3-year-old Harvard girl is accused of trying to lure two girls Monday, according to court records.

Gary C. Welsh, 83, of the 100 block of Sycamore Road in Genoa is charged with two felony counts of luring a minor and misdemeanor unlawful presence of a child sex offender in a public park.

Genoa police said they received a report of Welsh sitting on a bench at Durham Park, 25 S. Brown St., just off East Main Street near downtown Genoa. Another report filed alleged Welsh tried to lure two young girls outside a Dollar General store in Genoa.

The teenage girls told Genoa police that Welsh allegedly waved his hand toward himself from the front sidewalk outside the store “in an attempt to gain their interest,” according to the Genoa police report filed in DeKalb County court Tuesday.

The girls told Genoa police they knew about Welsh from other children saying he’d tried to make contact with them. Welsh allegedly stood in front of the girls’ bikes and touched the bikes after they refused to go to where he stood. The girls ran into the store to alert an adult, according to court records, and then fled to their residence.

Welsh was arrested Monday at his home by Genoa police without incident, according to the Genoa Police Department.

Welsh – who turns 84 Friday – has spent most of his life in prison or in mental facilities, according to McHenry County court records.

He was 23 when the 3-year-old was killed Sept. 29, 1962. Prosecutors said Welsh was supposed to be babysitting the girl, but instead he raped her and then suffocated her with a pillow until she died, according to McHenry County court records. Welsh was charged Jan. 25, 1973, with the toddler’s murder after he spent a decade deemed unfit for trial, records show. He was 33 when he was found guilty April 30, 1973, by a jury of the girl’s murder.

He was sentenced by former McHenry County Judge James Cooney to between 60 and 100 years in prison, court records show.

Welsh has been out of prison since Oct. 20, 2017, court records show, and was required to register as a sex offender for life and follow corresponding stipulations, such as having no contact with minors. DeKalb County prosecutors allege he broke those rules Monday when he was at a public park and also attempted to contact two female minors near their bicycles outside a Dollar General store in Genoa, according to DeKalb County records.

For decades, Welsh was locked up in Illinois state prisons. His defense team attempted to get him released – unsuccessfully at first in 2004. A case made to the Illinois Appellate Court by the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office and then Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office argued against his release, asking that a judge rule him “sexually violent,” a designation meant to prohibit release for sexual predators.

In their 2004 petition, prosecutors noted that in 1958, just four years before the toddler was murdered, Welsh was accused of sexually assaulting another minor and was committed to a mental institution in Iowa. He was also accused of molesting another child at the age of 13, according to the petition.

“The defendant is dangerous because he suffers from mental disorders that make it substantially probable that he will engage in acts of sexual violence,” the petition reads.

Welsh spent another 13 years in prison before his defense team petitioned again for his release, an official with the McHenry County public defender’s office who was familiar with the case said Wednesday. The release was granted in 2017, after Welsh spent almost 50 years in prison.

Welsh wasn’t sexually violent anymore, his defense team argued, primarily because of his age, the McHenry County Public Defender’s Office official said. A judge agreed Oct. 20, 2017.

Welsh appeared before Circuit Court Judge Philip Montgomery on Tuesday for a bond hearing on the DeKalb County charges. Montgomery determined he couldn’t find probable cause for the felony charges, citing what he called insufficient information provided in a Genoa Police Department synopsis of the allegations, according to court records.

Montgomery released Welsh on a $5,000 recognizance bond, meaning he didn’t have to post any money. Welsh was released Wednesday, court records show, and ordered to have no contact with minors.

The felony charges remain pending, however, and Welsh is expected to appear before a grand jury at 8:45 a.m. July 6 in front of Circuit Court Judge Marcy Buick.

A search for other criminal charges on Welsh in DeKalb County court records did not reveal any beyond the Monday complaint. Welsh is represented by the DeKalb County Public Defender’s Office.

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