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Investigators still looking to unlock mystery of 1974 murder of Swampscott teenager

Henry Bedard Jr. (left) was 15 years old when he was killed in Swampscott. Police hope to find the owner of the baseball bat (right) that was found at the scene of the crime.
Henry Bedard Jr. (left) was 15 years old when he was killed in Swampscott. Police hope to find the owner of the baseball bat (right) that was found at the scene of the crime.Swampscott Police Department

On Dec. 16, 1974, Henry Bedard Jr. did some Christmas shopping in his hometown of Swampscott after school. But he never made it home.

The 15-year-old sophomore stopped at CVS and bought perfume as a gift for his sister. He was last seen walking into a wooded area by the town’s Department of Public Works yard that afternoon.

Bedard’s body was later discovered buried under a pile of leaves on a rocky ledge overlooking the DPW. He had been beaten to death, and a Louisville Slugger baseball bat was found nearby. His killer has never been caught.

Forty-five years later, the Swampscott Police Department, seeking to revive the cold case, is turning to the public for help. On Thursday, police posted a photo of a key piece of evidence that was collected at the crime scene: the baseball bat, which has cryptic markings carved into it.

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“This bat has unique markings on the handle that investigators are hoping can lead to the owner,” Swampscott police wrote on Facebook.

It appears that the Roman numeral VI — or perhaps a letter K and some other lines, depending on how you look at it — was carved into the end of the bat. The bat also carries a “1,” a marking indicating it is a 31-inch bat.

Police said the area where Bedard was killed, near the hill overlooking the DPW, was a popular hangout spot for kids in the 1970s.

“It is possible he was going there to meet someone,” Swampscott police wrote. "The murderer(s) could have been someone he knew or a random act of violence.”

In a 2004 interview with the Globe, Bedard’s childhood friend, Cindy Cavallaro, recalled how the murder affected Swampscott, a seaside community of 13,500.

“It changed everything,” Cavallaro told the Globe. ”I don’t think I ever looked at anyone or trusted anybody the same way after that.”

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Cavallaro and other friends of Bedard have always hoped that justice will be served.

“How do I know that someone I went to school with wasn’t involved or knows something?“ Cavallaro said in the 2004 interview. “In a town this small, everybody knows everybody’s business. It’s like a little Peyton Place. How can something like this be kept so long?“

Swampscott police said anyone who may have information about Bedard’s murder or the baseball bat that was found at the crime scene should call Detective Sergeant Jay Locke at 781-595-1111 or send an e-mail to JLocke@SwampscottPolice.com and Massachusetts State Police Detective Anthony LoPilato at Anthony.lopilato@massmail.state.ma.us.

This article about Henry Bedard Jr. appeared in The Boston Globe on Dec. 19, 1974.
This article about Henry Bedard Jr. appeared in The Boston Globe on Dec. 19, 1974.Boston Globe archives

Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.