crime and punishment

Jacksonville, Texas’s Dylan Welch shot Jeff Gerla, Ami Hickey, Amanda Bain, John Clinton in New Summerfield?

Dylan Welch (©Cherokee County Sheriff's Office)
Dylan Welch (©Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office)

Dylan Welch, 21, of Jacksonville, Cherokee County, Texas, United States has been arrested. He was charged with capital murder in connection with the deaths of Jeff Gerla, 47, Ami Hickey, 39, Amanda Bain, 39, and John Clinton, 18.

On July 20, 2021, Clinton’s body was found in the driveway at a residence north of New Summerfield, Cherokee County. His mother, Gerla and Bain were found in the back of the land.

That day, Welch and his fellow Jacksonville residents Billy Phillips, 37, and Jesse Pawlowski, 20, allegedly stole clothing, guns and a 2017 Dodge Challenger from the residence and fatally shot the four victims. Before the day ended, the three suspects were arrested.

On July 21, 2021, Pawlowski, Phillips and Welch were booked into the Cherokee County Jail in Rusk, Cherokee County on bonds of $1 million each. If convicted, they could face life in jail or the death penalty.

“Every witness we had on the scene was deceased,” Jacksonville Progress quoted Cherokee County Sheriff Brent Dickson as saying. “Our crew really worked well together. We had a lot of good outside sources come in and help us and the community really stepped up and helped us out.”

Dickson said a 9-millimeter gun was used to shoot Gerla, Hickey, Bain and Clinton. Hickey is Clinton’s mother.

Clinton was dating Gerla while Hickey was dating Bain. Although the victims were in same-sex relationships, the primary motive appears to be a robbery rather than a hate crime, according to Dickson.

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Pawlowski and Phillips are friends and Welch is their associate. Both Pawlowski and Phillips had previous arrests.

In October 2019, Pawlowski was arrested on burglary charges. In June 2021, Philipps was arrested on charges of failing to comply with sex offender duty to register.

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