April 20, 1947
For as long as there’s been a highway into the hills, young lovers have gone up into Angeles National Forest on Saturday nights to be alone in the dark. Gerald Snow Welch brought his beloved Dolores Fewkes, 16-year-old Montebello High student, to the deserted Horse Flats picnic grounds. He also brought his .22 rifle.
What Welch swore was a suicide pact went awry when both shells he had brought proved necessary to extinguish the young lady’s existence. In fact, he had to beat her roundly with both stock and barrel of his gun to finish the job. Then he carried her body down the mountain to the cops, stated his “purpose in life had been completed,” and expressed impatience for the State to execute him.
From suicide watch in a padded Pasadena Police Station cell, Welch told officers that it was he who wished to die; Dolores had begged to join him. His depression could immediately be blamed on three miserable months spent in the Navy, which culminated in a medical discharge. In service, suffering “religious disillusionment,” Welch came to doubt the things he’d been told in Sunday school. He went to the library and read Plato, Schopenhauer and Emerson. In Schopenhauer, he found justification for suicide. Bu the roots of Welch’s troubles go back a decade, when the then-eight-year-old saw a neighbor, fleeing police after murdering her husband, blow her brains out in front of him.
Welch said he loved Miss Fewkes and longed to join her in heaven. For now, he appreciated the padded cell, a quiet place where he could be alone with his thoughts. And if the State declined to kill him, he would be happy to finish the job himself.