A McHenry County judge may decide next week to release to Rockford a 70-year-old man who has spent the past 48 years in prisons and mental institutions.
Gary Welsh sexually assaulted a 3-year-old girl in Harvard four decades ago. He pushed her face into a pillow to squelch her cries and suffocated her in the process.
The heinous murder occurred Sept. 29, 1962, when Welsh was 23 and rooming with the girl’s family. He was left to care for her and her two brothers while the children’s mother was hospitalized and their father traveled to fetch an aunt who was to watch the children on a more permanent basis.
McHenry County court records also show that Welsh was 13 years old when he molested a 10-year-old female cousin while living in Iowa and sexually assaulted his younger sister before he was committed to a mental institution in 1958.
Nearly 11 years after the Harvard murder, Welsh was sentenced on June 26, 1973, to 60 to 100 years in prison.
In December 2004, Welsh came within 90 days of his mandatory release. The Illinois attorney general’s office requested that he be committed to the state Department of Human Services for control, care and treatment until he is no longer considered a sexually violent person. A judge granted that request.
“We have maintained every step of the way that we are opposed to his release,” attorney general spokesman Scott Mulford said.
If he is released, Welsh will be under the care of the Safety 1st Conditional Release Program, a service contracted by the state Department of Human Services, DHS spokesman Tom Green said.
The Safety 1st Conditional Release Program was created in 2002 by Liberty Healthcare Corp. for the Illinois Department of Human Services. The program aims to improve public safety by helping to prevent future sexual assaults by sexually violent offenders who have been released to the community.
The program features specially trained conditional release agents, who monitor the sexual predators under their care by using various methods including sex offender-specific treatment, curfew checks, case management and technology such as electronic monitoring, polygraphy and drug testing.
“The program provides intensive community supervision for our 19 sexually violent persons in the (state),” Green said.