Friday, May 06, 2005

Posted on Fri, May. 06, 2005

Police ask band's fans for help finding missing student

Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Police searching for a missing college student who disappeared last month in New York have sought help finding him from fans of the band Ratdog.

A Maryland State Police corporal posted a message Thursday night on asking for leads in the search for Patrick M. Welsh, a 22-year-old York College student who was last seen at the Harrisburg train station April 15.

"We received an unconfirmed tip that he was at a recent concert and may be following (the) band," wrote Cpl. Jeffrey Tanzola with the state police's criminal investigative section in Westminster, Md.

Welsh's cellular phone was used April 18 in New York by John Dennis Koppinger, a homeless man who called his father to say he was OK and had found the phone.

Koppinger, who was arrested Tuesday in New York and held on unrelated warrants, was questioned and is not considered a suspect in Welsh's disappearance, said Maryland State Police Sgt. Thornnie Rouse. Koppinger found the phone in an area of the Bronx where homeless people live under a bridge, Rouse said.

"We're back to square one as far as locating Patrick Welsh," Rouse said Friday.

Welsh's friends and family say he is a fan of jam bands such as Ratdog and spent time last summer touring with the All Mighty Senators.

The posting on the message board for Ratdog, the band headed by former Grateful Dead rhythm guitarist Bob Weir, generated dozens of responses. Ratdog performed at the Beacon Theater in New York April 15-16.

"I think I talked to him as I was walking to the April 16th show," wrote someone who posted under the name Willow Sky. "I was walking alone and a guy looking a lot like him saw my Ratdog T-shirt and started talking about the tour and what songs he thought they'd play that night."