Gerald Hand, Ohio
Updated: Monday, May 15, 2023
Gerald Hand was scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Mansfield, Ohio. His execution is rescheduled to June 17, 2026. Seventy-four-year-old Gerald is convicted of murdering 58-year-old Jill Hand and 55-year-old Walter “Lonnie” Welch on January 15, 2002, in Delaware County, Ohio. Gerald has been on death row in Ohio for the last 18 years.
Gerald alleges he grew up in an abusive home. He eventually went on to join the Army. Gerald did not have a criminal record and was known to volunteer in his community. Gerald owned a radiator shop in Columbus, Ohio. Walter, “Lonnie” Welch, occasionally worked for Gerald at the shop. Gerald also had several other employees.
Gerald Hand’s first wife, Donna, was murdered in March 1976. Donna was found strangled to death in the basement of the home she shared with Gerald. The house was disturbed, but there was no evidence of forced entry. No items were reported stolen from the house. After Donna’s death, Gerald received a life insurance payout and $50,000 from the Ohio Court of Claims victims’ compensation fund.
About a year later, Gerald married his second wife, Lori. Together they had one child, a son, Robert Jr. Gerald and Lori lived in the same home where Donna was murdered. On September 9, 1979, Lori was murdered. Her body was also found in the basement, with her pant unzipped and her shirt pushed up. She had also been strangled to death. Lori’s vehicle had been stolen from the garage and while the house was partially ransacked, nothing was reported missing. Gerald received several life insurance payouts following her death.
Police investigated both deaths, including investigating Gerald as a possible suspect, however, their murders were never solved.
Gerald went on to marry his third wife, Glenna Castle. They remained married for seven or eight years before divorcing.
In October 1992, Gerald married his fourth wife, Jill. By 2000, Gerald’s radiator shop was failing and he had over $218,000 in debt. The financial problems started to cause tension between Gerald and Jill, especially after Jill discovered some of the debt was in her name. Gerald eventually sold his shop and began working as a security guard for minimum wage.
In mid-2001, Walter Welch began asking his older brother if he could borrow a pistol. Welch also told his brother that he had killed Gerald’s first wife and that he and Gerald had a plan to kill Jill. Over the next several weeks, Welch repeatedly asked his brother about the pistol. Welch talked to others about the planned murder and what he planned to do with the payment Gerald promised him.
On January 15, 2002, Gerald arrived home from work. A half-hour later, he called the police saying his wife had been shot by an intruder and that he had shot the intruder. Police quickly arrived and discovered Jill between the living room and the kitchen. She had been shot several times. Gerald told the police that he was in the bathroom when he heard his wife scream, followed by two gunshots. Gerald ran to the bedroom to retrieve his revolvers and began firing at the intruder, whom Gerald said he did not recognize. The intruder fled and Gerald followed, shooting, until the intruder collapsed on the neighbor’s driveway. Although Gerald claimed he did not recognize the masked intruder, he did say he thought the car belonged to his former employee, Welch.
During the investigation, police discovered Gerald’s financial problems and the large payouts he would receive in the event of Jill’s death. Police also connected Gerald and Welch. According to evidence from the community, Welch was trying to get more money out of Gerald for killing Jill. In return, Gerald decided to kill Welch and make it look like self-defense. Gerald was arrested, charged, and convicted for his involvement in the murder of Jill and for murdering Welch. He was sentenced to death for each murder.
Due to ongoing problems establishing an execution protocol and obtaining drugs for use in executions, Governor Mike DeWine continually issues reprieves ahead of execution dates. This results in executions being rescheduled. Gerald Hand’s May 17, 2023, execution date is rescheduled to June 17, 2026. More information regarding Ohio’s execution problems can be found here.
Pray for the families of Jill Hand and Walter Welch. Please pray for strength for the family of Gerald Hand. Please pray that if Gerald is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason, that evidence will be provided before his execution. Pray that Gerald may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
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