Bail at $1 million for girlfriend of murder victim |

Bail at $1 million for girlfriend of murder victim

by Sheila Gardner

The girlfriend of a 59-year-old Topaz Ranch Estates man found shot to death in his home was arrested in Los Angeles early Friday and charged with murder with use of a firearm or other deadly weapon after she was found hiding in a closet at her brother’s house.

Bail was set at $1 million for Jeanine Mona Escandon, 38, who was incarcerated in Los Angeles pending extradition to Nevada.

According to the affidavit in support of the arrest warrant, Escandon reportedly admitted shooting Norman Welch, but claimed it was an accident.

Welch was shot in the back of the head at his home on Gray Hills Road.

His body was discovered Tuesday by his ex-wife and business associate who became concerned because she hadn’t heard from him since the end of October.

She said Welch left her a voice mail telling her not to call him anymore because Escandon was jealous.

She described the relationship between Welch and Escandon as rocky.

The woman said there had been no activity since Oct. 28 in the bank account they shared and she was unable to contact him via e-mail.

She also told investigators that Welch owned three firearms including a 9 mm Beretta handgun.

According to the affidavit, a neighbor told investigators he and his son heard Welch and Escandon arguing on Nov. 1 at the TRE home. She was sitting in a car, and reportedly Welch yelled at her that he didn’t care about her mental health disorder.

Escandon reportedly called Yerington Mental Health on Nov. 1 where she was undergoing treatment and said she was moving back to Los Angeles.

When deputies arrived at Welch’s on Tuesday, they could not find house or car keys, a wallet, credit cards or money.

They found several boxes of ammunition, an empty box for a 9 mm Beretta handgun, and magazines and ammunition for a Colt 45 and Ruger 10-22.

According to the affidavit, an expended 9 mm shell casing was on the floor near Welch’s body. He had a wound in the back of his head consistent with a bullet hole, and the autopsy revealed what appeared to be a 9 mm bullet.

Escandon’s Nevada welfare department-issued debit card showed use at grocery story in El Sereno, Calif., on Nov. 1, 2, 3 and 8.

Welch’s 1990 Chrysler Imperial was recovered late Thursday near Dodger stadium in Los Angeles.

Records indicated that the license plate of the Welch’s stolen vehicle had been checked twice by Los Angeles authorities on Nov. 8.

Investigators went to Escandon’s brother’s address in Los Angeles and found her hiding in a closet. She agreed to leave with them.

Escandon told investigators she and Welch had argued and she hitchhiked to Los Angeles to get away from his abusive behavior.

When confronted about the missing vehicle, she reportedly admitted she stole the car to get away from Welch.

She said on the day of the shooting, which was not specified, she and Welch were painting the residence and got into an argument before he lay down on a couch.

Escandon reportedly told authorities she retrieved a handgun from the couch cushions and began walking around the house handling the firearm.

She said she didn’t realize it was loaded or that the hammer of the gun was back and cocked.

Escandon said when she was near the couch, the gun discharged and a bullet struck Welch in the head as he lay on the couch.

Escandon said she panicked, grabbed Welch’s car keys and drove to State Route 208, headed for Yerington. The woman said she changed her mind and drove to Los Angeles, tossing the gun out the window at an undisclosed location.

Undersheriff Paul Howell said Friday that Escandon would remain in custody in Los Angeles pending a court appearance on extradition before she is brought back to Douglas County.

He praised law enforcement officers and the district attorney’s office for work that led to the arrest.

“Our people did great,” he said. “Our investigative team worked nonstop, 26-hour days.”

He said the case remained under investigation.