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Stolen church windows to be returned to Queenstown estate

Under settlement agreement, inventor's estate recovers stolen windows – but at a price

Three years after they were stolen, a set of valuable stained-glass church windows will be returned to the Maryland estate of Robert W. Kearns, the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper.

In exchange, Kearns' estate has paid $25,000 to Don Riggott, the Minnesota man who purchased the windows from a third party and later attempted to sell them on eBay.

Those terms are spelled out in a settlement that resolves a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court. Under the settlement, Kearns' estate acknowledges that Riggott, who owns a company that salvages religious antiques, was not involved in the 2012 disappearance of the windows from an old milk house in Queen Anne's County.

Last month, Clark Elrod, 53, of Queenstown, entered an Alford plea on a misdemeanor count of conspiracy to commit theft in connection with the windows, which originally were installed in a Detroit church. With the Alford plea, Elrod didn't admit guilt but did acknowledge that prosecutors had enough evidence against him to secure a conviction.

According to one estimate, the 64 windows that vanished are worth about $3.5 million.

U.S. District Judge Donovan W. Frank signed an order Thursday dismissing the lawsuit.


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