Recently, more than six years after the arrest of Bernard C. Welch, the luxury-loving murderer of Washington cardiologist Michael Halberstam, two of the many legal cases resulting from his arrest have been resolved.
Halberstam surprised Welch during a break-in at the physician's Northwest Washington home on Dec. 5, 1980, and Welch fatally shot him.
Welch's arrest that night ended a string of thousands of flawless burglaries committed in the Washington area to underwrite a lavish life style that included a 5,700-square-foot home with an indoor swimming pool in Great Falls. That house was sold in 1982 for $369,600 to help pay Welch's debts.
Convicted of first-degree murder in D.C. Superior Court for Halberstam's slaying, Welch began serving a 143-year prison sentence at the Marion, Ill., federal prison in 1981.
Later transferred to a Chicago prison, he escaped on May 14, 1985, and was captured Aug. 7 by Greensburg, Pa., police checking into a routine parking complaint.
Welch, 47, is back in Marion, described as the nation's most secure federal prison; he would be eligible for parole in 2124.
Welch's former companion, Linda Sue Hamilton, continues to live in the Washington area, pursued by the Internal Revenue Service for back taxes and subject to a $5.5 million judgment won by Halberstam's wife.
It took officials six years to sort through the thousands of claims of Welch's burglary victims and return their property.
In September, the IRS sued Fairfax County and the Commonwealth of Virginia in U.S. District Court in Alexandria over the disposition of some of that property, arguing that it should have been used toward satisfying the tax agency's $16 million lien against Welch's property.
That case recently was settled, and "there was an agreement not to divulge the terms of the settlement," said Justice Department attorney Gerard J. Mene, who handled the case.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Alexandria, which was not directly involved in the case, said the settlement amounted to $25,000, but the spokesman was not certain which plaintiff had to pay up.
In a decision filed May 13, U.S. District Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr. in Alexandria ruled in favor of the IRS in its 1980 lawsuit seeking $16.5 million in back taxes from Welch. The judge threw in another $15.6 million in interest, plus court costs and any interest that accrues before Welch pays his bill.
It is unlikely that the government will ever collect the full amount. "Maybe they'll do a movie about him," in which case Welch would have to surrender rights to the government, Mene said. "We're always hopeful."