Monday, August 20, 2012

What I Know Now

A 1971 mugshot of Bernard C. Welch taken
by New York State Police in Batavia, N.Y. 
Six years ago all I knew about Bernard Welch was what I had read in the papers. Sure, I had researched his past criminal life when I was investigating the ghost burglaries. I had also helped process him when he was finally arrested and searched his house in Virginia. I had interviewed his common-law wife Linda, seen his children and saw him in court when he was tried for murder. But I did not know him.
I did not know of his young life or of the criminal pattern that began to develop when he started shoplifting candy while he was still riding a bike. I knew nothing of the high school dropout, his alcoholic father or fantasizing mother. I never had heard of his trail of crime while he was a teen, his early marriage, his daughters, his houses, or his upstate New York crimes. No, I did not know these things; I did not need to. I knew enough for him to be charged in Montgomery County, Maryland, and I knew enough to exult when he was sent to prison for murder.
My co-author, Jack Burch, has done a masterful job delving into Welch’s past. I learned of the dark soul Welch hid while he used others for his purposes. I learned of his desire for wealth, for success, for dominance, for recognition, all attained without regard for others. I discovered that, when he was very young, he chose the criminal path to achieve his desires. I learned he was clever, devious, daring and dangerous.
I learned he was what is known as a sociopath, a person without the internal restraints of normal people. There was no thought within his mind about what was right or wrong, only what was good for him. I learned of the wretched life of poverty he had condemned his three children by Linda to live. He had hidden money he could have given them for food, for medicine, for needed operations, but he did not. The money remained in a hole in the ground until he needed it for his escape years later. To me, as a police officer, a human and a father, this one example of selfishness clearly defined Bernard Welch.
Yes, I discovered many things about Bernard Welch. These past years of research, learning of his life, learning of his actions, and reading what others have said of him have been extraordinarily revealing; I know him now.
                                                                                                          – James King