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Murder victim’s life of simplicity makes search for a killer difficult

Posted May 6, 2014 9:34 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Philip Welsh lived a simple life, spurning a computer, the Internet and a cellphone. He wrote poetry on a Smith Corona typewriter, had a home filled with more than 1,000 books and worked as a taxi dispatcher.

The lack of an electronic footprint has made the search for Welsh’s killer more difficult, the Washington Post reports. The 65-year-old man who lived in Silver Spring, Maryland, died on Feb. 19 when an unknown killer entered Welsh’s always unlocked home and beat him to death.

Without electronic records, police don’t know whether Welsh had quarreled with someone or where he had gone in his final days. Marcus Jones, commander of Montgomery County’s major-crimes division, told the Post that those records usually help. “We don’t have any of that,” he said. The case is the only unsolved slaying in Montgomery County this year.

Welsh’s father, who was general counsel for the Association of American Railroads, also had a love of books. But Welsh didn’t follow in the footsteps of his father, a Harvard law grad. Philip Welsh dropped out of college, became a taxi driver and then a dispatcher, and traveled the world. Some of his poems became lyrics for his brother’s band; his crime novel will never be read because Welsh threw it away.

Welsh never married. One of his poems read: "Okay, so I failed at everything / I ever wanted in life / no little sweet baby children, / never no loving wife / Now every evening sun goes down / gives me an awful fright."

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