BOISE, Idaho – An Idaho sheriff has appealed for help from the public to determine what might connect a slain former Arizona power company executive, his wife and adult son to a 22-year-old man who prosecutors say was arrested with credit cards linked to the murder victims.
Bail was set at $2 million Thursday for Adam M. Dees of Nampa, who faces three counts of grand theft, three counts of forgery and a misdemeanor count of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. The 9 mm handgun was found tucked into Dees' waistband, prosecutors said, without disclosing whether it was linked to the killings.
Dees is not charged with murder.
The victims found Tuesday in a home in the foothills outside Boise have been identified as 80-year-old Theodore M. Welp, 77-year-old Delores Elaine Welp and their son, 52-year-old Thomas P. Welp. No motive or causes of death were released.
Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney has said the killings were the most violent he had seen in three decades in law enforcement. In addition to asking for help in determining a possible connection between Dees and the Welps, authorities were looking for information on a wedding ring they believe Dees tried to sell. They didn't know if it was connected to the killings.
The Welps formerly lived in Arizona, where Theodore Welp was the chief of Tucson Electric Power Co. in the 1980s. He was blamed by some for the financial downfall of the company.
The Arizona attorney general's office conducted an investigation into the financial dealings, but the probe did not result in criminal charges.
The killings took place in what records say is a three-bedroom, three-bathroom home on about 20 acres with a total value of about $800,000, owned by Theodore and Elaine Welp. Authorities say the property has horses and other buildings.
"No words can adequately express the grief and despair we are feeling," the Welp family said in a statement issued through the sheriff's office. "These were kind, caring and generous people who meant so much to us and have been senselessly taken from us."
Theodore and Elaine Welp were also involved with charitable organizations, including one that funds research on vision impairment and blindness.
Police arrested Dees on Wednesday at an electronics store. Prosecutors listed a handful of other sites where they said he used the credit cards, forged the names of the homicide victims, and was later identified by workers.
Dees' father, Steve Dees, told the Idaho Statesman that his son told his family he found the credit cards.
The young man wore restraints but appeared relaxed during his appearance in Ada County Court via a video feed from jail.
In a clear voice, Dees said "no" when asked by Judge Theresa Gardunia if he would be able pay the bail.
Defense attorney Isaiah Govia has sought bail of $25,000, noting his client had no previous felony convictions. He also said Dees was put on suicide watch after being arrested because he is bipolar and schizophrenic and didn't have access to his medication.
Gardunia ordered Dees to return to court on March 26.