Iowa City man arrested for burglarizing church now faces additional vehicle theft charge


An Iowa City man who was arrested after allegedly burglarizing the Church of the Nazarene earlier this month now faces vehicle theft charges.

31-year-old Michael Welker was discovered in the church on November 4th and arriving officers observed him leaving by the front door carrying a bag. After refusing to stop, officers were able to take him to the ground. The bag allegedly contained a crow bar and hammer, and items taken from the church.

Welker also had an ID with someone else’s name on it, and identified himself as the name on the ID. When police ascertained Welker’s real identity, a search of court records indicated that he left Hope House in July for work but never returned, and allegedly stole a truck a month later. He was taken to the Johnson County Jail on a host of charges.

The owner of the ID reported that the night before Welker allegedly burglarized the church, his truck was sitting in the Iowa City American Legion parking lot with the keys in it and realized the following day that it was missing. A check of surveillance video reportedly identified Welker as the person who took the truck.

When interviewed under Miranda at the jail after the theft, Welker admitted taking the truck, saying it was just a “joy ride” and also admitted taking it to the HyVee off the Coralville Strip. He drew a sketch directing officers where to find the truck. Police found it backed into an end space in the 900 block of 20th Avenue Place. Welker allegedly took the plates off the vehicle and replaced the back one with a Texas plate from a different vehicle. He also reportedly covered the dashboard VIN with business cards.

Welker has a history of incidents, including burglarizing an apartment building in the 100 block of South Dubuque Street in early April. Police located him on the top of the building and he allegedly had a backpack with a number of stolen items. While being arrested for his involvement in the burglary, he would only identify himself as “the Messiah.”

If convicted on the theft of the truck from the American Legion lot, Welker faces up to an additional five years in prison, on top of the over 40 years from charges related to the church burglary and the over five years for the apartment building burglary.