Khayman “Khay” Welch, 25, was last seen on August 12, 2020.
For the first time, we’re hearing from the lead detective on the case as Khayman’s mother is desperately hoping for closure.
Khayman was a mystery himself. Quiet and reserved, he didn’t talk much to anyone besides family. Covered in tattoos, but underneath the ink, Rihannon Lewallen says her son, "Khay" carried a heart of gold.
"He has an amazing soul, amazing spirit," she said. "There was nobody in this world that doesn't love him."
"So he was taking a break from his passion, which is art and tattooing, to kind of regroup and get back into it, because he put his heart and soul into what he did," said Rihannon.
Khayman often messaged his mother with signs, both negative and positive, depending on the day. She says she knew he was trying.
"Everyone in the family knew that he was having some things he was working through, but I guess we didn't really know the extent of it."
But the days and weeks leading up to Khayman’s disappearance are haunting. His mental state concerned Rihannon.
"Honestly, whenever my phone rings and it's Uncle Brian calling, I kind of have a panic attack, just because it takes me back to that night when I got that call."
On August 12, 2020, Rihannon learned her son was nowhere to be found.
Tonto National Forest, which is more than 2.9 million acres, is the largest forest in Arizona — a beauty in the Sonoran Desert diverse with terrain, vegetation, and elevation. The Superstition Mountains await visitors from across the world.
The day, Khayman took a job with his uncle doing AC work at Tortilla Flat. After finishing the work, he suggested stopping at Weaver’s Needle Vista east of State Route 88. They went and his uncle parked in the lot just after 7 p.m. Khay got out and explored, walking southeast towards the peak.
"It just seemed like he just wanted to go get a quick view of the vista at sunset," said Detective Rob Marske with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
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