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Local Spotlight: 'Murder in Boston'

On Jan. 4, 1990, Coast Guard and Police boats searched for the body of Charles Stuart, who they believed had jumped from a bridge. He had recently become the main suspect in the murder of his wife, Carol.
On Jan. 4, 1990, Coast Guard and Police boats searched for the body of Charles Stuart, who they believed had jumped from a bridge. He had recently become the main suspect in the murder of his wife, Carol.

In October 1989, a white man named Charles Stuart called 911 in distress, saying a Black man had shot him and his wife, Carol, in their car. Carol died from the wound and police cracked down hard on the predominantly-Black Boston neighborhood of Mission Hill, looking for the killer.

It turned out, Charles had committed the crime. He was seen jumping from a bridge not long after he became the police’s main suspect.

The Boston Globe recently revisited the story in a series of articles and a podcast produced in association with HBO, “Murder in Boston: The untold story of the Charles and Carol Stuart shooting.” An HBO docuseries about the story is also currently streaming.

Their investigation revealed new findings about the case that stirred a media and police frenzy, as well as the subsequent backlash.

Reporters found that police ignored multiple tips that Charles was the killer and that at least 33 people knew the truth, long before authorities. Their conversations with residents of Mission Hill revealed that the police terrorized that community looking for a phantom killer, leaving long-lasting trauma.

After the release of the investigation, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu issued a formal apology to the men wrongfully identified as suspects in the killing.

We talked to the host of the podcast, a longtime reporter on The Boston Globe’s staff.

This conversation is part of 1A’s series, Local Spotlight, which highlights the work of local investigative journalists. Tell us about the great, impactful journalism happening in your community by emailing us at 1a@wamu.org.  

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Avery Jessa Chapnick