DA delays decision on whether to charge woman with abduction of kin

A Mesa County prosecutor on Tuesday said he needs more time to decide if a 72-year-old woman will face criminal charges in the alleged abduction of her great-grandson.

Rosa Mae Welker, of Grand Junction, appeared free on bond and was supported by a half-dozen friends and family members during a brief court hearing Tuesday morning.

The District Attorney’s office was expected to file formal charges. Instead, Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Hand told District Judge Brian Flynn he hasn’t spoken with the alleged victims in the case, including the parents of 4-year-old Marshall Alan Joseph.

“Everything is on the table right now,” Hand said after the hearing, when asked about the possibility of not filing charges.

Working with Welker’s family, Mesa County Sheriff’s Department deputies negotiated her surrender on the night of Jan. 29 in the Mesa Mall parking lot. The boy was returned to his father the same day, and Welker was booked at the Mesa County Jail on suspicion of second-degree kidnapping.

Marshall was reported missing by his parents Jan. 28, after Welker called them to say he was safe with her, authorities said.

Members of the boy’s family said Welker had been Marshall’s primary caretaker since birth, and his father, James Joseph, had recently been awarded full custody.

An arrest affidavit said Welker’s family was concerned about the boy’s welfare if he left to live with his father in North Dakota. The affidavit said Welker was interested in starting child-custody litigation. Welker told her family Jan. 29 that an attorney suggested she hide out with Marshall until the following Monday, when the attorney would have time to meet with her, according to the affidavit.

The attorney who allegedly offered the advice is not identified in the affidavit.

Welker is scheduled to return to court Feb. 23.


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