In July of 2003, John Welles’ gruesome murder left the city of Arcadia, Florida, pretty shook. Although John went missing on July 8, 2003, it did not take long for the police to recover his deceased body from a watery ditch in Joshua Creek. Moreover, while the police believed his death to be an accident, investigators soon discovered that the victim was shot in the head, which completely turned the case around. The popular true-crime podcast ‘CounterClock’ season 4 takes the viewer through John’s murder and shows how the police initially suspected his grandmother. Let’s take a look at the case in detail and find out where John’s grandmother is at present, shall we?
Who Is Pat Strader?
John’s relationship with his grandmother, Patricia “Pat” Strader, was amicable. However, during the murder investigation, authorities uncovered information that indicated how Pat and John’s relationship might have soured once when Pat’s husband (John’s step-grandfather) died. The victim and his grandmother resided in the same house in Arcadia, Florida, and thus, she did see him on the morning of July 8, 2003, before he suddenly disappeared. Although the police weren’t informed immediately, a large group of John’s acquaintances gathered at the house before setting out to search for the missing person. Later, Pat called 911 herself and reported her grandson missing before joining the search in person.
Interestingly, Pat, her stepson, Skip, and John’s friend, Patrick Skinner, were the first three people to come across John’s body inside a watery ditch in Joshua Creek. Although law enforcement officials were informed about the discovery, they were unable to join the investigation until twenty-four hours after the victim was first reported missing. Moreover, the podcast indicated that before first responders arrived on the site, Pat had removed a few crucial pieces of evidence from the crime scene, a claim she has refuted to this very day. Still, John’s death was initially considered an accident until an autopsy found a bullet lodged inside his head. Thus, with a gunshot wound as the cause of death, authorities knew they had a homicide on their hands.
Once detectives carried out their tests and had a look at the crime scene, they narrowed their investigation down to three primary suspects, namely, Pat, Skip, and Patrick Skinner. When questioned, Pat insisted on her innocence and claimed that she had nothing to do with the murder. She even mentioned that she had no motive to hurt her grandson and asked to be excused from the investigation. According to the podcast, the police eventually discovered some letters and even got wind of a missing will, which seemed to hint at the victim being involved in a land dispute. Moreover, authorities even learned that even though John was first in line to inherit his grandfather’s sawmill, Skip suddenly came in the way, leading to several altercations. However, most leads ended in complete dead ends, and detectives found themselves back on square one.
Where Is Pat Strader Now?
Ultimately, in 2017, medical examiners took a second look at the murder and in a different autopsy, determined that although John died from a bullet wound, the gun was discharged because of an accident. Interestingly, there was a truck parked near the ditch where John’s body was found, and the autopsy claimed that while dismounting from the vehicle, John’s gun slipped out of his holster, hit the floor, and went off, killing him on the spot. Moreover, a firearms reconstruction expert and a forensic pathologist backed the report. Thus, John’s official autopsy was changed to “death by accident.”
Ever since John’s death was ruled an accident, Pat Strader prefers to keep her personal life under wraps. She has a limited to no presence on social media and likes to stay away from the public sphere. However, Pat still resides in her Arcadia property that she lived in back in 2003 at the time of John Welles’ death. Besides, readers should note that Pat Strader has never been charged in relation to John’s death.