Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Abortion pill case heats up as doctor's son seeks bail



TAMPA — He said he was sorry. He wanted to die. He called himself a "coward" and a "horrible person," court records state.

"I'm sorry I ruined everything," John Andrew Welden told girlfriend Remee Jo Lee after she accused him of causing her miscarriage by slipping her a drug.

In the federal court system, that's the sort of detail that might not come out until trial. But a bail hearing set for today has turned into a proving ground for the government's case against Welden, 28, among the few people in the nation to be charged under the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act.

His attorneys — there are now three — filed a motion June 7 asking Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli to release Welden from jail pending trial. With help from his friends and family, they portrayed him as "honest," "trustworthy" and "religious."

Prosecutors called him a flight risk, citing the strength of their evidence and the possibility of a life sentence. That left defense attorneys trying to cast the case as weaker than billed.

So the bail motion also attacked the science behind the federal charges, questioning the ability of the drug, Cytotec, to stop an embryo's heart.

A heartbeat was present March 28, the day before Lee took a pill and began experiencing cramping, records state. There was no heartbeat March 31.

The son of a Lutz fertility specialist, Welden is accused of forging his father's name on a prescription pad and relabeling Cytotec as a common antibiotic instead of a drug known to trigger contractions.

Welden's attorneys suggested that Lee, 26, might have suffered a routine loss of a pregnancy of nearly seven weeks.

On Tuesday, the government rebounded with excerpts from phone calls and text messages between Welden and Lee, which laid bare Welden's early pleas for an abortion and his recorded admissions to Lee that he gave her the drug.

Prosecutors suggested a motive: Welden didn't want his other girlfriend, Tara Fillinger, to know Lee was pregnant.

He faces two federal charges: product tampering and causing the death of an unborn child in utero.

On Wednesday, the defense team filed an affidavit from Rebecca Allen, an obstetrician-gynecologist from Providence, R.I., who has studied misoprostol, Cytotec's generic equivalent.

In her opinion, Allen said, one 200-microgram dose of the drug would not have caused injury to Lee or the death of her embryo.

The prosecution filing Tuesday states that Lee took one pill at 4 p.m. March 29. It mentions no others; however, it quotes Welden saying that he told her to start with two. An image of a printed label calls for three pills, three times a day.

The prescription was written for 60 pills on a pad bearing the name of Welden's doctor father. Government exhibits include a sheet of paper upon which someone has signed the elder Welden's name multiple times.

Today, the government intends to release transcripts of Welden's pre-arrest interview with detectives, in which he reportedly admitted that he gave Lee pills to cause a miscarriage.

A portion of the interview is already quoted in court records.

Detective: "Did you give her some medicine?"

Welden: "Uh, yes, sir, the Cyotec." (He omitted one "t.")

Detective: And you told her it was what?

Welden: "Amoxicillin."

Detective: "Okay. But it was actually what?"

Welden: "Cyotec."

Detective: "What do you know that to do?"

Welden: "Uh, causes, uh, uterine contractions and, uh, it's a (inaudible) and it, uh ... cuts off, uh ... certain nutrients to the uterus, causes, uh, uterine contractions, uh, softening in the cervix."

Detective: "What's gonna happen when you give her the medicine?"

Welden: "Usually she'll have a miscarriage."

Staff writer Charles Scudder and news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Staff writer Patty Ryan can be reached at or (813) 226-3382.

Message excerpts

Here's an excerpt from a March 23 series of text messages prosecutors say were exchanged between John Andrew Welden and Remee Jo Lee.

Lee: "I thought of a nice name for whatever it is. Memphis Remington Welden. Kids gonna be a bad a--!"

Welden: "Oh God I want to die"...

Welden: "Are you serious Remee please don't do this I beg you"

Lee: "Don't do what? Take responsibility for my actions? This isn't about us anymore. It is not it's fault, why should it have to die?"...

Welden: "Fine I can't do this I am destroyed"

Lee: "What? Ok then don't. You can miss out. It wont lack love"

Welden: "I know I am just begging you Remee not like this with all my heart I beg of you."

Lee: "No. I'm not hurting this being. Please don't hurt me either just let me, us rather, be. How can you beg me to kill it? Especially after the life you've led and things you've seen?"

Welden: "G-- d----"

Lee: "You don't have to be with me you don't have to raise it you don't have to be involved at all if you don't want to"

Abortion pill case heats up as doctor's son seeks bail 06/19/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 10:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Chasing 125: Bucs hope to hit rushing goal more often


    Ever so often, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter pulls back the curtain a bit and shares some of the stats that matter to him most as a coach.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017.
  2. Two Boca Ciega students arrested on charges they brought gun to high school football game


    PINELLAS PARK — Two Boca Ciega High School students were arrested for having a loaded semi-automatic handgun with them at a Friday night football game at Pinellas Park High School.

    Two Boca Ciega High School students were arrested for bringing a weapon on school property on Friday night at a high school football game at Pinellas Park High School.
  3. Bucs-Jaguars was NFL's lowest-rated ESPN game since 2005


    It is just the preseason, and it is the Jaguars, but Thursday night's Bucs-Jags preseason game earned a 1.6 rating on ESPN, which is the lowest-rated preseason game (excluding NFL Network) in 12 years, according to Sports Media Watch.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, left, talks with coach Dirk Koetter during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
  4. Crash at U.S. 19 in Pinellas Park kills one, shuts down traffic


    PINELLAS PARK — A man is dead after a crash between two cars at the intersection of U.S. Highway 19 and 70th Avenue N just after 7 a.m. Saturday.

    Pinellas Park police are investigating the death of a man during a crash on U.S. 19 early Saturday. (Pinellas Park police)
  5. Tropics watch: The latest on Harvey and what systems could hit Florida


    While Eastern and Central America monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Harvey, two tropical disturbances are moving through the Atlantic.