Adam Dees admitted Friday to robbing and killing Ted, Elaine and Thomas Welp at their Boise Foothills home.
“Sir, I killed three people and I robbed their home,” the 22-year-old from Nampa said during questioning by 4th District Judge Samuel Hoagland.
Dees pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and one count of robbery. In exchange, the Ada County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office agreed not to seek the death penalty and dropped eight other burglary, fraud and weapons charges.
Dees will serve life in prison without an opportunity for parole, under the terms of a plea agreement reached in the brutal killings of the Welps on March 8 or 9. He will be formally sentenced Aug. 28. Dees also agreed not to pursue any appeals.
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Ada County Prosecuting Attorney Jan Bennetts told reporters at a press conference after the hearing that she agreed to the deal after being assured that Dees would take full responsibility for his crimes. She said she also consulted with members of the Welp family, who also supported the deal to spare themselves the ordeal of having to sit through a long trial and expected appeals if Dees was convicted.
“The agreement will guarantee that Mr. Dees never leaves prison and that he serves the rest of his life in prison, which would guarantee that the community is safe from Mr. Dees,” Bennetts said.
Additional details about the case will be revealed at sentencing, Bennetts said.
Afterward, George Welp, son of Ted and Elaine and brother of Tom, spoke for the family, saying the best they could hope for was that Dees could never harm another person again.
“We miss our dad, mom and brother so very much and that will never change, but we are at peace knowing we can now move forward, focusing on life the way our parents and brother would want – living with love and kindness,” George Welp said.
“We celebrate Ted, Elaine and Tom every day. And we grieve for them. That will never change. But our family needs to heal. Our family needs time together — living our lives — in order to feel whole again. That time will not be spent in a courtroom, enduring a trial, sentencing and appeals that would likely span years – even decades,” he said.
Sheriff Gary Raney has described the crime scene as probably the bloodiest and most horrific he’d seen in 31 years of law enforcement.
NEW DETAILS REVEALED
Deputy Ada County Prosecutor Brian Naugle said the Welps suffered greatly during a “significant struggle” with Dees, who had no known personal or business relationship with the family.
“The state’s theory in this case is that the primary motive during the course of this crime was robbery,” said Naugle, who told Hoagland that Dees acted alone and who offered other details not previously disclosed.
Ted Welp, 80, his wife, Elaine, 77, and their son Tom, 52, were each shot in the head with a 9-mm handgun at their home on North Cartwright Road. Tom Welp, who was nearly blind and deaf, also suffered a stab wound to the front of his neck to his spine. All three victims were struck in the head repeatedly by a wooden baseball bat Dees had purchased hours before from a Garden City Wal-Mart.
“Both Ted and Elaine fought for their lives,” Naugle said, describing defensive wounds to both of them and also explaining their hands and feet were bound.
Four members of the Welp family left the courtroom while Naugle explained to Hoagland how their relatives were killed.
Surveillance video from the Wal-Mart showed Dees at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 8, buying the black bat, a ski mask and a package of plastic zip ties used in the murders. Dees entered the Welp house to rob it late that night or early the next morning.
Hours after the murders, Dees told a computer gamer friend from Wisconsin that he had robbed the house of a rich family and that it “got physical” when the people didn’t do what he asked.
On Monday, March 9, Dees was scheduled to attend an out-of-state training program for his employer, Plexus, a Nampa electronics company. He did not show up for the training or return to work again.
That same day, he took Elaine Welp’s wedding ring to a jewelry store. He told the clerk he found it at the side of the road while working and wondered what it was worth. He left it for cleaning.
Dees, who took tools belonging to the Welps, other jewelry and credit cards, used those cards to make purchases on March 9 at two stores in Mountain Home and seven in Boise. He disposed of evidence from the murders at several of the stores.
A piece of luggage belonging to Ted Welp was found inside a trash container in the back of Barbacoa restaurant in Southeast Boise. Inside, police discovered the baseball bat, shattered in two and containing blood.
“DNA evidence from that bat showed blood from Thomas Welp,” Naugle said.
After Dees was arrested March 11 at a Boise Best Buy, police found a pair of shoes belonging to Ted Welp, a black shirt similar to the one he wore to the Wal-Mart store and a ski mask that had been dumped there.