Name: James Michael Welter
Case Classification: Missing
Missing Since: January 01, 1986
Location Last Seen: Ocean Springs, Jackson County, Mississippi
Date of Birth: October 02, 1951
Age: 34 years old
Height: 5'5" - 5'10"
Weight: 155 - 165 lbs.
Hair Color: Brown, generally parted his hair to the right.
Eye Color: Brown
Distinguishing Marks/Features: May have a mustache, otherwise military shaven or possible short stubble or shadow from being off-duty for a few days.
Clothing: He was wearing civilian clothing on the night of his disappearance.
Additional Personal Items: Possible military accessories such as a web belt, identification tags (dog tags) or military ID.
Welter, a Staff sergeant at Keesler Air Force Base, was last seen in Ocean Springs, Mississippi on New Year's Eve 1986. He disappeared within a day or two of being arrested for drunken driving in Ocean Springs, MS on New Year's Day 1986.
At the time of his accident and subsequent arrest, he was with a woman who worked at Rooks Inn in Biloxi, MS. Welter posted bond and was issued a court date of January 15, 1986. He never appeared for his court date. Welter was scheduled to return to duty at Keesler on January 6, 1986, but did not report as scheduled. His approved leave had ended and he was reported as Absent Without Leave (AWOL) by the U.S. Air Force on January 8, 1986. Ocean Springs police reportedly filed a missing person's report and listed his name on a national crime database. His dental records were provided to authorities to help identify him. His home address was at Jefferson Davis Apartments, in Ocean Springs.
His blue 1976 Ford Granada was later located, but being driven by one of the arresting OSPD officers who said that he bought the vehicle on a salvage bond from two unidentified individuals in approximately March of 1986. The vehicle is reported to have been scrapped.
At the time of his disappearance, Welter was purchasing a timeshare with Dixie Resort Corporation, Indian Point Resort, in Gautier, MS. The parent company, NACO Resort Club Inc. had no record of the salesperson who supposedly sold Welter the timeshare nor do they have any record of Welter. The salesperson that Welter worked with is described as being a transient who traveled around selling resort memberships. Even after Welter went missing, the money for the timeshare continued to be automatically withdrawn from his account until it was paid off. The resort where the timeshare was purchased was managed by a relative of the person who was found to be the new owner of Welter's Ford Granada purchased on a salvage bond from two unidentified individuals in 1986.
Private investigators hired by the family, which includes 9 children, have turned up reports that Welter may have assumed a different name and left the Coast for Shreveport, Louisiana, with a girlfriend. At one point, Welter may have assumed the name "Billy Cox." During the investigation into his disappearance, his photo was shown and some had said he was going by that name and was working for a construction company running heavy machinery.
His social security number has not been used since January 1, 1986. His checkbook and savings book, investments, passport and other personal belongings were left behind. He was declared legally dead in 2002.
Agency Name: Air Force OSI
Agency Contact Person: Special Agent John Fine
Agency Phone Number: (571)-305-8620
Agency E-Mail: N/A
Agency Case Number: 407-C-085-A-2856504254192
NCIC Case Number: Unknown
NamUs Case Number: 15624
Mississippi Missing and Unidentified Persons
The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.)
Added:5/21/09; Last Updated: 10/3/17
Questions or comments? Please contact appropriate member of the Area Team
** Listed information is from the time of disappearance.