All accounts assume that Rabbi Chaskel Werzberger was killed by the same man who unsuccessfully tried to rob the jewelry courier, Chaim Weinberger. I have asked around. Virtually all such jobs are inside jobs where someone in the business tips off the robber about the time and place where the heist can be pulled off. Weinberger worked for the Jewish owned firm, Pan American Diamonds. So it is a good bet that the robber was was probably someone with ties to Weinberger’s employer.
Initially, the primary suspect in the case was Joseph Astin. But Weinberger could not identify him from a picture. Then he died in an auto accident which crushed his face. Weinberger was also not able to identify him in the morgue. The police then went to work and fabricated charges against David Ranta by bribing a jail house snitch, Bloom, with a massively reduced sentence (down from over a hundred years to two years).
Theresa Astin later testified,
Her husband had planned a robbery, and he came home shaking and nearly in tears on the day the rabbi was shot. Later she found him in the bathroom, dismantling a pistol.
“He said, ‘I hurt someone, something happened,’ ” Ms. Astin testified. “He was crying, he was scared.”
Regardless of whether Astin was the robber, a plausible account of the crime should have included an explanation of how the robber knew that there was going to be a courier with a valuable load to rob that morning. Yet that was not part of the trial and no explanation was offered by the police or the DA.
Rabbi Leib Glanz put a lot of effort into coaching witnesses into false identifications of David Ranta. It is especially troubling since Chaim Weinberger, the courier, insisted that Ranta was definitely not the person who tried to rob him. Weinberger was the only witness who got a really good look at the assailant.
If it was a Jew, or someone acting on behalf of Jews the crime could have ended up being tied to someone in the community. It is possible that Glanz and others including the cops and the prosecutors realized or suspected this and put all their energies into obscuring that line of inquiry by framing someone with no connections to the orthodox community.