Heroes, just for one day

Every year at this time, KNDU and KNDO profile Red Cross Real Heroes. News Director Christine Brown comes around with the stack of the honorees,  and we play Pick-a-Hero-any-Hero. This year, as she fanned the pack of recipients before me, one card protruded from the rest.

When the boss nudges, well, one does what must be done.

Fortunately for me, Christine knew this is a story I wanted to tell.

The Kennewick police chief nominated Detective Rick Runge as a real hero for solving a 30-year-old murder case.  The detective cringes over being singled out when many people were involved, but when the boss nudges, one does what must be done.

Here’s the bittersweet ending.  Last December, when Runge finally had the evidence to arrest the man, Jack Welch had withered into a 56-year-old invalid in a vegetative state, struck down by stroke, diabetes, and various vices over the years. Doctors at Eastern State Hospital diagnosed Welch incompetent to stand trial. 

Prosecutors and judges often face difficult decisions, some unpopular with public sentiment.  But when the law nudges, one does what must be done.

Detective Runge, Prosecutor Andy Miller, and the family of the victim all agreed, and with his signature Judge Craig Matheson dismissed the case.  

Runge says he’s happy the family found piece, if not justice. Prosecutor Miller, a stalwart advocate for victims, put it this way. “Strapped to a wheelchair and being a vegetable for all intents and purposes, may be more punishment than if he was in prison.”

You can watch the piece on Detective Runge on KNDU.COM.


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