Hailed as COVID hero in summertime viral video, nurse now charged with burglarizing homes

Hospice nurse David Walthall gained a few minutes of viral video fame this summer when a man allegedly blamed him and other healthcare workers for the coronavirus as they rode a Red Line train.

The confrontation escalated, and the men wrestled until other passengers intervened and separated the two.

Now, Walthall is getting attention for a less valiant effort: Prosecutors say he burglarized homes in Lincoln Park and pawned off the proceeds.

Walthall may want to stick with healthcare because his job performance as a burglary was apparently sub-par: He allegedly left his work ID inside one of the homes he burglarized.

Prosecutors charged Walthall with his first burglary after police allegedly caught him red-handed as he crawled out of a broken window and walked down the fire escape of a Lincoln Park high-rise with a bag of burglarized loot that included a rifle on January 14.

Monday, Walthall was back in bond court to face another burglary charge. Prosecutors say detectives linked him to another break-in in the same neighborhood.

Assistant State’s Attorney Franka D’Antignac said the latest case stems from a burglary on the 400 block of West Roslyn Place around 10 p.m. on December 22.

David Walthall | CPD

A neighbor who had been asked to keep an eye on the alleged victim’s home while they were out of town found the home’s front garden window broken. Video from a nearby surveillance camera allegedly shows a man who looks a lot like Walthall wrapping a rag around his hand before walking toward the window that was later found shattered. The glass can be heard breaking on the footage.

When the homeowner returned on January 1, they found Walthall’s work ID inside their home as they cleaned up the mess, D’Antignac said.

Detectives learned that Walthall presented his state ID when he sold the victim’s earrings to an Uptown pawn shop on December 28, according to D’Antignac. The next day, he sold two of the victims’ necklaces to a pawnshop in Lincoln Park, D’Antignac said. He also presented his state ID during that transaction.

Walthall turned himself in to police Sunday after he learned that another case was being filed against him.

During Monday’s bond court appearance, Walthall’s private defense attorney identified him as the healthcare worker who appeared in the viral video.

“Over the summer, a nurse on a train was accosted by an unmasked man…about COVID. It went through the media,” attorney Jonathan Feldman said. “This is Mr. Walthall. He is a nurse practitioner who brought home healthcare to hospice to the South and West Sides of Chicago through his employment and saw nothing but suffering and sadness and death in the homes of elderly people.”

Walthall has two children and is currently going through a divorce, Feldman said.

Noting that the new burglary charge stems from a break-in that allegedly occurred before Walthall was arrested last month, Judge John Lyke released the 41-year-old on his own recognizance.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com