Kenneth Wayne Welch, who police say snatched his 7-month-old son in Pauma Valley, in custody

Authorities say the baby is safe

VALLEY CENTER, Calif. - A parolee allegedly beat his girlfriend severely near their Pauma Valley home early Tuesday before fleeing with their 7-month-old son and threatening to do harm to him, prompting an eight-hour manhunt that ended with the father's arrest and the safe recovery of the baby.

Deputies investigating a reported domestic dispute shortly after 1:30 a.m. found the battered woman, whose name was not released, in a neighborhood off the 22000 block of state Route 76, sheriff's officials said.

The victim told investigators her boyfriend, 42-year-old Kenneth Wayne Welch, had attacked her during an argument as they sat with their son inside a parked vehicle in the area, not far from their home on the La Jolla Indian Reservation, Lt. James Bolwerk said.

The badly hurt woman, identified by a family member as Nusun Schlater, managed to escape and run off, after which Welch drove away with the child, also named Kenneth, Bolwerk said. Medics took the victim to a hospital for treatment of serious injuries to her head and face.

Authorities, meanwhile, issued a statewide Amber Alert while trying to locate Welch, who was believed to be armed with a knife, a threat to the baby and possibly suicidal, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Several hours later, a relative of Welch's who lives in Oceanside called the police to report that the suspect had dropped off the infant and then left, the lieutenant said. The child, who was unharmed, was taken into protective custody.

Welch's sister, Patti, told 10News her brother called her for help.

"Ken called me early at 5 o'clock this morning. He had little Kenneth's best interest at heart," said Patti. "He wanted me to pick him up, make sure he was OK … I took him in and immediately took him to CPS (Child Protective Services) to see if he was OK."

He didn't want to go to her home, so they met at a nearby bank.

"He looked like he was sad for what he did," Patti said.

Shortly before 10 a.m., deputies spotted Welch driving through western Vista. Following a brief road and foot chase, they arrested him in the 1100 block of Marine View Drive, just east of South Melrose Drive, Bolwerk said.

Welch was booked into the Vista Detention Facility on suspicion of attempted murder, assault, child endangerment, domestic violence, evading police and violating conditions of his parole. He was being held without bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Patti told 10News her brother is unfit to be a parent, saying, "I agree the baby should be in safe hands."

If convicted of the felony charges that may be brought against him, this would be his third strike, as he has two prior convictions for robbery and assault.