Ghost Burglar is the story of Bernard Welch who was one of the most successful thieves in U.S. history, as well a surprisingly witty prison escapee, with two such exits under his belt. A rather unassuming fellow by day, he’d developed a system that made him extremely successful during his night prowling. He had a nose for neighborhoods that had the kind of loot he was looking for. It had to be goods that were of value but easy to pass along, and easy to retrieve quickly. During the years he was in operation Welch, a loner who achieved the status of America’s Most Wanted burglar, made millions.
The book’s authors are Jim King and Jack Burch. King was the detective who became intimately acquainted with the ways of Welch, who also eluded capture by means of a range of aliases. Burch was a reporter who in 2005 decided this would make a worthy topic for a book. When he met and interviewed King he found the detective to be a goldmine of information. King expressed interest in the project, and turned out to be a writer now that he was retired. “We did a lot of talking by phone to nail down details of the case,” noted Burch, ”and during those interchanges, it became obvious that this project would turn out much better if we tackled it together.”
In 2008 they made a trip to Duluth together during which time they drew up an outline and assigned responsibilities. Burch explained: “The combination of our experience and skills was a good fit throughout the project. We wrote one very rough draft, edited that and then just kept on editing and refining throughout the project. The final edits were done by Jessica Radzak, a Chicago-based book editor retained by our publisher, Mike Savage.”
The story begins with an interrupted robbery in which Bernard Welch shoots and ultimately kills a doctor. But the doctor didn’t immediately die and because he didn’t believe he was fatally wounded chose to drive himself to the hospital. To the doctor’s surprise Welch is creeping back to his car a few blocks away and the doctor veers off the road and smashes into Welch with his car. And so we see the end from the beginning as this event leads to the media circus that became Welch’s trial.
|Examples of the kind of goods Welch had an eye for.|
When finally apprehended Welch became a news sensation around the time the Congdon murders took place here in the Northland, two of the biggest crime stories of that period. You can find the book here at Amazon.com .
EdNote: This weekend I will share an interview with the book's two authors who provide additional details only hinted at in their book.