Jack Craft was stunned when he heard the news that his younger brother had been brutally murdered, but it was a fate he said he always feared his brother would meet as homeless man on the streets.
John Anthony Welch, 52, was killed along with another transient Warren Jay Blagrave, 52, in the early morning hours Thursday at a Glendora car wash where the two would often spend the night.
Authorities say witnesses heard screaming and when a patrolling officer arrived at the scene, both Welch and Blagrave lay dead. Both had been stabbed multiple times after they had tried to run from their attackers.
Their deaths rocked the suburban bedroom community of Glendora, which hadn’t seen a homicide since April 2009.
The next day, Drew Friis, 28, of Glendora, and another suspect whose name authorities are withholding, were arrested in connection with the double homicides. Friis was charged for the murders on Monday, and if convicted he is eligible for the death penalty.
But Craft, 54, is struggling to understand why would anyone want to murder his brother.
“When he wasn’t drinking he was a wonderful man to be around,” said Craft of Welch. “He was smart, skillful and a genuine person.”
Craft said he and his siblings grew up in Glendora and attended Glendora schools. Their parents divorced when they were young, which Craft said had a profound effect on his younger brother.
Welch married and had three children. He was a truck driver and took on construction gigs, but Craft said his brother’s drinking became worse after his divorce from his first wife.
“He started drinking and his days went downhill from there,” said Craft. “We tried to help him, get him into a home or rehab, but he wouldn’t have any of it.”
Craft said Welch began living on the streets in 1998, returning to Glendora in the city where he had grown up.
Craft, who now lives in Michigan, would call his brother, who was known on the streets as Little John, to see how he was doing. The past several months were particularly tough for his brother. Welch was reportedly hit by a car, leaving him in a wheelchair.
Following the murders, his body – riddled with up to 20 stab wounds – would be found not too far away from his wheelchair.
Craft said he doesn’t understand who would commit such a crime or why. Police have not yet disclosed a motive for the killings.
He said tried to call Welch on a phone number he shared with Blagrave the night the two were murdered. But the phone went straight to voicemail.
But Craft knows that living on the streets is never a safe life to lead.
“I know my brother had a hard time,” said Craft. “His heart was in the right place, but he chose a path he couldn’t turn away from.”