Globe Insiders

Most popular stories of 2013

John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/File

1. Package sent to Globe brings end to long mystery

  • Inside the nondescript cardboard box were a skull and other skeletal human remains, along with a plea and a clue. The plea was from the anonymous sender: Find out whose bones these are. The clue was about where to start, with four young people who vanished at sea in 1976, four whose families never gave up the dream of their return. Read the story.


2. For bombing suspect’s nurses, angst gave way to duty

  • The 29-year-old trauma nurse was on-call at home, unwinding in front of a “Friends’’ television marathon on a Friday night. She had been ministering to patients horribly injured in the Boston Marathon bombings and craved a distraction. But she couldn’t resist flipping to the news, and as she did, police surrounded Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, cowering and bloody inside a parked pleasure boat.

  • Then her smartphone rang.

  • A nursing supervisor told the young woman to hurry into work. She didn’t know it yet, but within hours, she would be one of Tsarnaev’s bedside nurses, soothing the accused terrorist’s pain and healing his wounds — just as she had done for some of his victim. Read the story.

Getty images

3. Bombing suspect in custody after standoff in Watertown

  • Four days after two deadly explosions turned the finish line of the Boston Marathon into a scene of bloody chaos, the 19-year-old college student believed to be responsible for placing the bombs was taken into custody tonight, bringing a sense of relief and justice to a shaken region. Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev of Cambridge was pulled from his hiding place in a boat parked behind a house on Franklin Street shortly before 8:45 p.m. in this community just outside Boston. Read the story.

Patricia Wen/Globe staff

4. Brothers watching Boston Marathon each lose a leg

  • Liz Norden, a mother of five, had just finished hauling groceries into her Wakefield home Monday afternoon when her cellphone rang.

  • “Ma, I’m hurt real bad,” said her 31-year-old son. He was in an ambulance, he told her, being rushed to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

  • It was her second boy, who had gone with his older brother to watch a friend run in the Boston Marathon.

  • On the phone, her son said his legs were badly burned in an explosion. His brother had been next to him, but he didn’t know where he was. Read the story.

Peter Pereira/Standard Times/via Associated Press

5. Bombing suspect spent Wednesday as typical student

  • Dzhokhar Tsarnaev spent an apparently normal day Wednesday at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where he was a sophomore, according to a school official, working out in the gym, then sleeping in his dorm room that night, while law enforcement officials frantically scanned photos trying to identify the men who planted deadly bombs at the Boston Marathon on Monday.

  • Card swipes told officials that Tsarnaev, described as a good and typical student who played intramural soccer, was on campus Wednesday, but it was not clear if he had been there earlier in the week. Read the story.

6. Harvard Law outsider became Tea Party hero

  • As the lights rose, Ted Cruz held center stage, dressed in black and kneeling at a bedside. The first-year student at Harvard Law School delivered his lines with the emotions of a man gripped by anger, fear, and worry for his reputation.

  • “Do you understand that I have many enemies?” he thundered. “There is a faction that is sworn to drive me from my pulpit. Do you understand that?”

  • Cruz, then a devoted amateur thespian, was playing the role of the Rev. Samuel Parris in “The Crucible,” Arthur Miller’s allegorical play about McCarthyism.

  • The lines — and the part — seem prophetic today. Read the story.

Andrew Kitzenberg/

7. Carjacking victim describes harrowing night

  • The 26-year-old Chinese entrepreneur had just pulled his new Mercedes to the curb on Brighton Avenue to answer a text when an old sedan swerved behind him, slamming to a stop. A man in dark clothes got out and approached the passenger window. It was nearly 11 p.m. last Thursday.

  • The man rapped on the glass, speaking quickly. Danny, unable to hear him, lowered the window — and the man reached an arm through, unlocked the door, and climbed in, brandishing a silver handgun.

  • “Don’t be stupid,” he told Danny. He asked if he had followed the news about the previous Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings. Danny had, down to the release of the grainy photos of suspects less than six hours earlier. Read the story.

Barcroft Media /Landov (left)/Associated Press

8. Brothers in Marathon bombings took two paths into infamy

  • The two young brothers from Cambridge seemed to be on promising paths, one a scholarship student at college, the other fighting for a national title in amateur boxing.

  • And then, apparently with little warning, they veered violently off track, deep into the darkness, setting off deadly bombs, authorities are convinced, at one of Boston’s most iconic and joyful events.

  • To those who knew them, the apparent transformation of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19 — ethnic Chechens, born in the former Soviet territory now known as Kyrgyzstan and transplanted to a working-class Inman Square neighborhood — seemed almost inconceivable. Read the story.

Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

9. Investigation of Boston Marathon bombings continues

  • Investigators combing through the scene of the deadly Boston Marathon terrorist attack have recovered a circuit board that they believe was used to detonate the bombs, according to an official briefed on the investigation.

  • Investigators have also recovered components of the bombs, enabling them to determine that they consisted of two 6-liter pressure cookers packed with nails, ball bearings, and other metal. The makeshift bombs were placed in black duffel bags, the official said.

  • The one that exploded first was placed on the ground on Boylston Street, across from the finish-line viewing stands where dignitaries, including Governor Deval Patrick, had been sitting earlier. The second bag was placed on the ground about 75 to 100 yards down the street, outside the Forum restaurant at 755 Boylston, according to the official. Read the story.

Steven Senne/Associated Press

10. In reversal, Obama says he lived with uncle

  • President Obama acknowledged Thursday that he lived with his Kenyan uncle for a brief period in the 1980s while preparing to attend Harvard Law School, contradicting a statement more than two years ago that the White House had no record of the two ever meeting.

  • Their relationship came into question Tuesday at the deportation hearing of the president’s uncle, Onyango Obama, in Boston immigration court. His uncle had lived in the United States illegally since the 1970s and revealed for the first time in testimony that his famous nephew had stayed at his Cambridge apartment for about three weeks. At the time, Onyango Obama was here illegally and fighting deportation.

  • On Thursday, a White House official said the press office had not fully researched the relationship between the president and his uncle before telling the Globe in 2011 that it had no record of the two meeting. This time, press office staff members asked the president directly, which they said they had not done in 2011.

  • Read the story.

11. Authorities have clear video images of two suspects

  • The FBI today released photos and video of two suspects in the deadly Boston Marathon terror bombings case, appealing to the public to help law enforcement officials find them.

  • “Somebody out there knows these individuals,” said Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the Boston FBI office. He said the two men are considered “armed and dangerous.”

  • DesLauriers described the two men as Suspect No. 1 and Suspect No. 2. Suspect No. 1 was wearing a dark hat. Suspect No. 2 was wearing a white hat. Read the story.

12. A medical collision, with a child in the middle

  • First in a two-part Globe investigation.

  • A juvenile court judge backed the state’s decision to take emergency custody of ailing 14-year-old Justina Pelletier after her parents and Children’s Hospital were deadlocked over her diagnosis and care. The girl’s stay at Children’s would stretch from days to weeks to months.

  • These cases are rare, but not as rare as one might think. In just the last 18 months, Children’s — which given its reputation attracts many of the toughest cases from across the Northeast — has been involved in at least five cases where a disputed medical diagnosis led to parents either losing custody or being threatened with that extreme measure. Similar custody fights have occurred on occasion at other pediatric hospitals around the country. Read the story.


13. What it’s like for Aaron Hernandez in jail

  • Inmate No. 174594, formerly No. 81 in your Patriots program, exercises alone in an 8-foot-by-12-foot padlocked cage in the courtyard of the Bristol County House of Correction.

  • For one hour a day, Aaron Hernandez gets to breathe fresh air and maybe get some sunshine amidst the chain-link fencing, roof, and razor wire. He does sit-ups, knee bends, and push-ups on the concrete floor, according to prison authorities.

  • Hernandez, charged in the first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd, is not just in prison, but confined to a “special management unit.” He is kept away from other inmates because of his high profile. He started off in the medical unit, where doctors evaluated his mental health and the gang intelligence unit inspected his numerous tattoos for affiliations that could spark jailhouse violence. Read the story.

14. Stoneham couple’s love story, in life and death

  • When Neil Carruthers married Tina Nedelcu three years ago, he knew her funeral might arrive sooner than either wanted. She had already been treated for brain cancer, and had learned anew to talk and walk and coax her lovely voice to sing again in church.

  • For some, illness puts love on hold. Not Neil. “He said, ‘Mom, you don’t marry someone for their pedigree and you don’t marry them for their health history,’ ” his mother, Rosanne, recalled. “He told me, ‘Mom, whatever time we have, I want to spend with her.’ ”

  • Nine months after they married in 2010, the cancer returned. Early this year they moved in with Neil’s parents in Stoneham, and he stopped working so he could tend to all Tina’s needs. When she could no longer speak, he sat by the bed and read from a Bible whose passages she had highlighted so brightly and frequently it was as if Scripture glowed from every page. Read the story.


15. When the ‘cure’ doesn’t end the pain

  • Part of a Globe series on the growing epidemic of Lyme disease in the US.

  • Some Lyme disease patients have symptoms that can linger for years despite standard treatment. Scientists are puzzling over how that can be. Read the story.

16. Kevin Cullen: A perfect Marathon day, then the unimaginable

  • It was as good a Patriots Day, as good a Marathon day, as any, dry and seasonably warm but not hot like last year. The buzz was great. While the runners climbed Heartbreak Hill, the Red Sox were locked in another white-knuckle duel with the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. The only thing missing was Lou Reed crooning “Perfect Day” in the background.

  • The winners and the elite runners had long ago finished, when in the Fens, at shortly after 2 p.m., Mike Napoli kissed a ball off The Green Monster in the bottom of the ninth, allowing Dustin Pedroia to scamper all the way home from first base, giving the Red Sox a walk-off win.

  • Many of those jubilant Sox fans had walked down through Kenmore Square toward the Back Bay to watch the Marathon. Some of them had just got to the finish line when the first bomb went off, shortly before 3 p.m. Read the story.

Josie Jammet for The Boston Globe

17.The fall of the house of Tsarnaev

  • Tamerlan, the eldest, started hearing the voice as a young man. It disturbed him. It frightened him, as the voice inside grew more insistent. It may in the end have directed him. Dzhokhar, the youngest, was the child full of promise. But almost from the moment he left home, trouble and failure seemed to mark him, and risk to allure him. He was anything but a passive figure in the history the brothers would soon make. A five-month Globe investigation offers new details and insights into the two young men accused in the greatest act of terrorism in Boston history and the deeply dysfunctional family that produced them. Read the story.


18. A grim hunt for answers in wake of Marathon attack

  • Investigators combing through the grim aftermath of the deadly Boston Marathon terrorist attack have found evidence that timing devices were used Monday to detonate the bombs that ripped through race spectators on Boylston Street, said an official briefed on the investigation.

  • Working with fragments painstakingly gathered at what is considered the city’s largest-ever crime scene, they also determined that the two bombs were probably fashioned from 6-liter pressure cookers, filled with nails and small ball bearings, like buckshot, to increase the carnage, and then hidden in black nylon bags or backpacks and left on the ground. FBI bomb experts at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., will try to rebuild the devices from fragments that include a circuit board that indicated the bombs were detonated on a timer, rather than remote control. Read the story.

19. Both hurt in Marathon attack, touch hearts online

  • She holds his hand in the photo, a step ahead, in a dazzling ruby-red dress. He leans back, easy in an untucked dress shirt, as they walk in front of a vibrant plaza in Harvard Square. The clarity and staging suggest a professional engagement shot, but the look on their faces is genuine.

  • Maybe it is the photo, or the equally vivid character sketches beneath it of Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky Downes, newlyweds critically injured as they watched the Boston Marathon at the finish line Monday. Jess, an MGH nurse from the West Coast, spirited and confident; Pat, a Boston College graduate and Cambridge boy, gentle, generous, and goofy; the two together, selfless and warm, cherished by their friends. Read the story.

Julio Cortez/AP

20. Second Marathon bombing suspect captured

  • In the waning moments of daylight, police descended Friday on a shrouded boat in a Watertown backyard to capture the suspected terrorist who had eluded their enormous dragnet for a tumultuous day, ending a dark week in Boston that began with the bombing of the world’s most prestigious road race.

  • Boston locked down after manhunt for Marathon bombers Interactive map: Timeline of the manhunt Interactive map: Timeline of Marathon attack suspects Manhunt for Boston Marathon bombing suspects ends Coverage of the Marathon bombings The arrest of 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of Cambridge ended an unprecedented daylong siege of Greater Boston, after a frantic night of violence that left one MIT police officer dead, an MBTA Transit Police officer wounded, and an embattled public — rattled again by the touch of terrorism — huddled inside homes. Read the story.

Bill Greene/Globe staff

21. Suspect seen carrying, and perhaps dropping, black bag

  • An official briefed on the Boston Marathon terror bombing investigation said today that authorities have an image of a suspect carrying, and perhaps dropping, a black bag at the second bombing scene on Boylston Street, outside of the Forum restaurant.

  • Investigators are “very close” in the investigation, said the official, who declined to be named. Read the story.

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

22. Tebow will play quarterback, not receiver, McDaniels says

  • A trio of Patriots talking points from Monday afternoon after speaking with Tom Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels:

  • 1. Don’t believe the hype: Tim Tebow is here to play quarterback, not catch passes.

  • Ninety-nine percent of Tebow’s activity during his time with the Patriots has been spent learning to play quarterback in the team’s system. He has only spent time in the quarterback meeting room, he wears a red non-contact jersey on the field and he runs the third-team offense during team drills. Read the story.

Johannes Hirn /Landov

23. Kevin Cullen: Nothing tough about this boxer’s character

  • Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a pretty good boxer, and he fashioned himself a tough guy. He was so tough he was charged with assaulting his girlfriend.

  • Last Monday, tough guy Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his brother left bombs on the sidewalk on Boylston Street and killed an 8-year-old boy, a 29-year-old woman who grew up in Medford, and a 23-year-old Chinese graduate student at Boston University. Read the story.


24. Victims of explosions are facing a long road ahead

  • She lies on a blood-spattered sidewalk, a makeshift tourniquet held to her leg by two strangers. The image, shot by a Boston Globe photographer and featured on the front pages of the Globe and The New York Times on Tuesday, came to symbolize the grievous wounds and sudden heroism that followed the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon.

  • The girl on the ground is Sydney Corcoran, a 17-year-old Lowell High School senior. Her femoral artery was ruptured. Corcoran, near death when she reached Boston Medical Center, woke from surgery with a request: Locate the men who saved her life. Read the story.


25. Older bombing suspect ‘was up to no good,’ cousin says

  • A relative of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects said he repeatedly warned the 19-year-old fugitive Dzhokhar Tsarnaev about the bad influence of his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed overnight in a shootout with police.

  • A picture has begun to emerge of 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev as an aggressive, possibly radicalized immigrant who may have ensnared his younger brother Dzhokhar — described almost universally as a smart and sweet kid — into an act of terror that killed three people and injured more than 170 at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday. Read the story.

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