A Kelso man facing multiple felony charges after allegedly shooting a man and then detonating the body with explosives has been ordered held without bail by a Cowlitz County judge until his next court appearance on Monday.
Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Ted Scudder ordered Jethro N. Welter, 52, held without bail pending a hearing at 1:30 p.m. Monday after Welter’s attorney requested time to prepare. Welter is being held in the Cowlitz County Jail.
Welter was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of first-degree murder in the death of 51-year-old Kelso resident Alan Nielsen. According to a probable cause statement filed in court, police believe Welter was allegedly involved in the July 15 shooting of Nielsen after someone reported they had fired “half a dozen shots” over the head and “yelling and screaming” on the block 2100 block of Holcomb Road. in Kelso. Welter does not own the property, according to county assessor records.
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Five days after the call, another resident called 911 and reported a “very loud explosion,” police said.
Investigators say after obtaining a search warrant for the property, they found a green Nissan pickup truck with something exploding in the back.
According to the police report, they found body parts around the truck. The Cowlitz County Coroner’s Office identified the remains as Nielsen, but the cause of death remains under investigation, the report said.
Also found on the property was a Sonic Boom, an explosion mark used by enthusiasts to shoot, several bullets and spent shell casings, and a large “dark spot” that later tested positive for human DNA.
A confidential informant told police that two other people were involved in Nielsen’s death, but none of them have been arrested. According to the police report, the source said Nielsen was shot because one of them suspected Nielsen of killing the man’s dogs.
The informant told law enforcement that the dog’s owner asked him to help dispose of the body and told authorities he covered the body with a tarp. In a court document, the informant described how, even as the explosion tore the body apart, the victim’s wallet was still in his pants and the chain was attached to the pants.
The informant also told investigators that Welter and a blue Ford Ranger were “involved in the death of Alan Nielsen, and that the Ranger suffered multiple gunshot wounds,” the police report said. When police searched Welter’s property in the 300 block of Holcomb Spur Road, they said they found a blue Ford Ranger with bullet holes, along with 10 firearms, one of which was allegedly stolen from Clark County. They also found a substance suspected to be methamphetamine, the report said.
Welter was convicted of fourth-degree assault in 2021 and is prohibited from possessing a firearm, the police report said.
Detectives also searched Welter’s Facebook account and say they found a message to the dog’s owner: “We need explosive targets, name gator weapons, Lexington Hardware bobs [sic] and anyone else you can think of.’
Investigators found that Welter made several visits to Bob’s Sporting Goods in Longview between July 17 and July 19, where he purchased 60 pounds of Sonic Boom explosive targets.