Wednesday, May 16, 2012

She Made Him Who He Was

While in prison, Bernard Welch attended the College of Criminal Knowledge.  From the old cons he learned that most of them had been tripped up by blabbing to others and these others had squealed to the cops.  After he escaped from the New York State prison, he never again confided his exploits to another person.  He operated alone and had no close friends; therefore, no one could betray him to the police.  He avoided criminal fences that might connect him to crimes and used only legitimate sources to sell his booty.  Unlike most career criminals, he seldom drank, did not smoke, use drugs or gamble.  In effect, Welch had limited his risk exposure to the few minutes he was in a home illegally.
Linda Hamilton in the 1970s.
But he still had a problem and it was a major one.  By the time he had figured everything out, he was on the run, a prison escapee and a wanted man. He used many aliases when selling his stolen goods to legitimate dealers and these dealers often asked for government issued identification.  In the modern world of paper trails, a valid ID was difficult to obtain.
Bernard found a solution to his problem – women, single, lonely, honest and trusting.  He would find a woman and become intimately connected.  He used a succession of women to help him in his business of crime. They did not know what his business was, as he was a master at fabricating stories to cover his real life, that of an escapee and thief.
Welch’s liaisons were temporary until he found Linda Hamilton.  Linda was perfect for his needs. She was a small town girl with secretarial skills, naive and trusting. She believed what Bernie told her. He was nice looking, intelligent and projected an air of intrigue that made him interesting, even exciting. She fell in love and Bernie had no mercy. He sucked her into his web until there was no escape.
Linda enabled Bernie to be a prolific thief. She was the honest citizen front that he required to get to the next level of his endeavors.  He stayed in the background, conducting his nightly “business” while she handled the paperwork.  She provided him with a legitimate name by using a relative’s birth certificate. She opened the bank accounts, bought the cars, got the insurance, kept the books, filed the taxes, opened the investment portfolios, bought the houses, sent the melted gold and silver to refineries, lied about being married, bore his children and did whatever else was needed to make their life comfortable, respectable and wealthy.
At some point, Linda must have suspected that her almost husband was a crook, but by then it was too late for her.  With three kids, her options were to continue to suspend reality and live day-to-day with Bernie, or return to Duluth with her children and live on welfare. She took what seemed the easy way out, continuing to be one-half of a criminal enterprise. 
Without Linda, Bernard Welch would have been just another small-time thief, as he had been in New York and West Virginia.  Instead, she enabled this man, whom she did not know was also a rapist and murder, to become the most successful burglar in American history.   I believe it can truly be said that she helped make him what he was.
– James King

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