A seemingly crank-type telephone call on Christmas Eve 1997 would initiate a hellish 12-year ordeal for New Jersey native Karen Welch. For the next decade-plus, the single mother of one would experience terrifying harassment from an unknown source, struggles with a legal system reluctant to seriously investigate her situation and even a four-year respite from her stalker’s torment.
The individual behind Welch’s dozen-year tribulation would eventually be identified as Joe Pate, a 55-year-old husband and father and well-respected member of his community. Pate committed suicide on January 4, 2010 by duct-taping himself inside of a shed behind his home and setting it on fire, forever avoiding federal prosecution.
Welch’s story inspired anti-stalking legislation in the state of New Jersey. She has spoken at government assemblies in support of an improved legal system for victims of stalking and was featured on an episode of Investigation Discovery’s Stalked: Someone’s Watching documentary program profiling her case. Welch’s ordeal will also be the focus of an upcoming edition of The Security Brief With Paul Viollis.
Karen Welch kindly spoke with me on the evening of March 1 to discuss her story, including the difficulty she experienced in convincing state law enforcement officials to prioritize her case and her continued involvement in anti-stalking awareness.
Please click on the “Play” icon below to hear the interview: