Welch was finally caught only because he shot a prominent heart surgeon, Dr. Michael Halberstam, during a botched burglary in December 1980. Halberstam then chased down and hit Welch with his car as Welch fled the scene. Halberstam died on the operating table, and Welch was eventually sentenced to 143 years plus life in prison.
Initially housed in an “escape-proof” prison in Marion, Illinois, Welch manipulated prison officials into transferring him to a less secure facility in Chicago on the promise of becoming a snitch. There, he broke out with the help of an Aryan Nation enforcer. Upon escape, Welch continued his criminal ways, earning a place on the U.S. Marshals’ Most Wanted list before being captured again.
When Welch was arrested in 1980, newspapers reported the Halberstam death, but the background and aftermath of this fascinating story never saw the light of day because other news events—the murder of John Lennon and later the assassination attempt on President Reagan—became bigger headlines.
Now you can finally read the full and complete story of America’s most “successful” burglar. Ghost Burglar: The True Story of Bernard Welch—Master Thief, Ruthless Con Man, and Cold-Blooded Killer by Jack Burch and James D. King details Welch’s life from his humble beginnings in upstate New York to the lavish world he created for his family, all financed by his criminal activities, to his trial, imprisonment, escape, and eventual recapture. Co-author King, one of the detectives on the Ghost Burglar case, offers firsthand insights into the police investigation that always seemed one step behind Welch’s maneuvers. Extensively researched, Ghost Burglar finally reveals the full details of Bernard Welch’s life of crime.