Search
Close this search box.

Crystal Welch, MFP Board Vice President, Dies in Ridgeland Triple Homicide; Suspect Killed

a photo of Crystal Welch smiling at the camera
Mississippi Free Press Board of Directors Vice President Crystal Lynn Welch, 42, (pictured) was one of three victims of a triple homicide. Ridgeland Police found her body alongside those of her mother and a sister on Sunday, May 12, 2024. Photo courtesy Crystal Welch

Mississippi Free Press Board of Directors Vice President Crystal Lynn Welch, a 42-year-old Mississippi College School of Law instructor who devoted her life to social-justice work, was the victim of a triple homicide over the Mother’s Day weekend. 

Ridgeland Chief of Police Brian Myers said in a statement on Monday that officers entered a home on Old Canton Road on Mother’s Day, May 12, and found the bodies of Crystal Welch along with her mother, Ida Thomas Welch, 76, and her sister, Vicky Renee Welch, 56.

The statement said police entered the home “after family members contacted Ridgeland PD regarding the welfare of the occupants at the home” and that all three “had been shot to death in the home.” The statement said Ridgeland Police processed the crime scene with assistance from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.

In a follow-up statement this afternoon, Myers identified the suspect as Ivory James Welch III—the son of Ida Welch and brother of Vicky Renee and Crystal Welch—and said he had died in a shootout.

“An arrest warrant was obtained and the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force began searching for Welch. Welch managed to get to Arizona before being located by Troopers with the Arizona Department of Public Safety,” Myers’ statement says. “Arizona State Troopers attempted to apprehend Welch and he fired upon the Troopers and was fatally wounded in the gunfight.”

Crystal Welch was well-known for her legal and advocacy work in Mississippi. She served as the board president for the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi; and at Mississippi College, she taught and practiced adoption law and youth court law. She also served as the supervising attorney for Mississippi College School of Law’s Family and Children’s Law Center; and served on numerous boards for legal and social-justice-oriented organizations.

In 2020, Crystal Welch was one of the behind-the-scenes figures leading the successful effort at the Mississippi Legislature to convince lawmakers to retire the old Confederate-themed state flag in favor of a completely new one to represent all Mississippians.

“I believe there was a shift in Mississippi. People in the past had assumed the flag issue was about politics,” she told this reporter in 2021. “At this point, it became more about morality, right versus wrong, and I think we owe that to George Floyd causing a shift in the atmosphere in which people began to rethink race relations in the U.S. and in Mississippi in particular. And last year, people who were traditionally in favor of the Confederate emblem on the flag began to rethink the consequences.”

MC Law students enrolled in the Youth Court Clinic and Adoption Legal Clinic being sworn in to limited practice
Professor Crystal Welch (center) was a law professor at Mississippi College School of Law. Photo courtesy Crystal Welch

Crystal Welch joined the Mississippi Free Press’ board of directors in July 2023.

“I’ve known Crystal for years,” MFP Editor & CEO Donna Ladd said today. “She was a force of nature and totally dedicated to helping Mississippi reach its full potential as an equitable and kind state for all our residents. She dedicated herself to doing the work, and she lived and loved life to the fullest. It was an honor to know her. She will be missed by so many whose lives she’s touched.
“Our whole team and board is devastated by her loss. We are so grateful for her service and being able to know her for as long as we did.  This is a severe loss to our state.”

MFP Publisher Kimberly Griffin tweeted earlier today that Crystal “was simply sunshine and gave Mississippi the best she had.” 

After news of the triple homicide broke Monday morning, Mississippi College School of Law released a statement mourning the loss.

“It is with profound sadness that the Mississippi College and School of Law family mourns the passing of Crystal Welch, Associate Clinical Professor at the Mississippi College School of Law. The thoughts and prayers of our leadership, faculty, staff, and students are with Crystal’s family in this difficult time,” the school’s statement said.

ACLU of Mississippi Executive Director Jarvis Dortch, who had just been with Welch at a board retreat Saturday morning before her death, also released a statement through the organization.

“I just cannot process today’s news. Crystal was a great friend and since 2023, she was an enthusiastic leader of the ACLU of Mississippi Board of Directors,” he said. “She was always asking what more she could do to support our team and our work. Our staff and board will forever be grateful for her commitment to equality and justice. Her passion for life, infectious spirit and enthusiasm will be missed. On behalf of ACLU of Mississippi, I would like to express our heartfelt condolences to Crystal’s family during this unthinkable time. We urge the community to join us in sending prayers to the Welch family.”

Nick Judin contributed to this report.

Can you support the Mississippi Free Press?

The Mississippi Free Press is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) focused on telling stories that center all Mississippians.

With your gift, we can do even more important stories like this one. 

Comments