Criminal Justice

Who shot suburban attorney to death in law firm parking lot? Suspect still sought in 2009 slaying

Those who knew Eric Birnbaum say it is impossible to imagine who could have wanted to shoot the 51-year-old suburban Philadelphia lawyer to death, execution-style, as he was walking across the parking lot to work on Feb. 10, 2009.

But someone wearing a knit cap and sunglasses did, possibly in a case of mistaken identity. Five years later, the Bucks County crime remains unsolved despite last fall’s doubling of an offered reward for information about Birnbaum’s slaying to a little over $20,000, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports in a lengthy article about the case.

The John Marshall Law School graduate had joined the law firm operated by childhood friend Terry D. Goldberg the previous year, after working for 20 years for Slifkin & Axe in Willow Grove. His slaying stunned Goldberg, who joined another firm three years later in an effort to escape daily reminders of Birnbaum’s death.

Eric Birnbaum’s sister, Dona Birnbaum, says she is losing hope that the killer will be brought to justice. However, authorities say they have enough forensic evidence to identify him, once a suspect is pinpointed, the newspaper reports.

Investigators cleared Birnbaum’s family members and friends, and, despite looking at his work at both the Goldberg firm and Slifkin & Axe, did not find any ex-clients who appeared to have been involved in his death. The case is complicated by the possibility that Birnbaum was killed by mistake, perhaps thought to be someone else, and the fact that slayings committed to avenge a perceived wrong can take place years after the event that sparked them and for reasons that may not make sense to the average person.

Nonetheless, investigators are still pursuing new leads in the Northampton Township case, hoping the passage of time will encourage individuals to come forward who may know something about the man who committed a homicide near a busy traffic artery during rush hour and then vanished. Investigators also hope to talk with a few people who left tips in response to billboards about the Birnbaum slaying that went up last fall. His slaying is the only unsolved murder case in the township’s history.

Matt Weintraub, who serves as chief deputy district attorney in Bucks County, says solving a homicide is much like solving a connect-the-dots puzzle. In Birnbaum’s case, he tells the newspaper, “we don’t even have all the dots.”

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