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You never forget your first home. Especially when police find human remains there.

My wife and I lived at 838 East Broadway in South Boston in the 1980s and early 1990s. Last week, the police recovered what they believe to be human remains there.

The building at 838 East Broadway in South BostonJeremy C. Fox for the Boston Globe

Shortly before we got married, my wife and I bought a condo in South Boston, on the corner of East Broadway and N Street.

It was an imposing brick building with nine units. We were on the second floor, with a three-piece bow window in the front, from which you could watch the planes float across Dorchester Bay toward Logan.

Our place was small, less than 600 square feet. But it never felt small, because we were young and worked long hours and because, as it was our first place together, we had no point of comparison.

I could get to the Globe in less than 10 minutes. It took my wife a little longer to get to the hospital where she worked.


On a sunny October afternoon, we walked across the street to St. Brigid’s to get married.

Southie was different then. Ours was one of the few condo buildings at the time. Parking wasn’t that bad. Flanagan’s was the supermarket. The guy working the deli counter thought nothing of lighting up a cigarette on the job. There were corner stores everywhere, but none used the word “provisions” or sold charcuterie.

There were no dog groomers, but Slocum’s was the best toy store in the world. The barrooms were shot-and-a-beer places, and sometimes the shots were fired by people holding guns. Whitey Bulger was a name all our neighbors knew but rarely said out loud.

Whenever a friend from K Street, originally from Brooklyn, bought The Village Voice at Schubert’s in Perkins Square, the checkout clerk discreetly slipped it into a brown paper bag without being asked, as if it were scandalous.

As for restaurants, there was Amrheins in the Lower End and the Farragut House in City Point, and not much else in between.

We moved out of Southie 30 years ago, and while couples never forget the first home they made as newlyweds, we hadn’t thought about our old place at 838 East Broadway for ages before we saw a photograph of it on the Globe website the other day.


The headline “Remains of possible human fetus or infant found in freezer in South Boston” was jarring. It was later reported that additional human remains were discovered there.

James Borghesani, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden, said prosecutors have not been able to determine whether a crime was committed because the frozen condition of the remains has slowed testing by the state medical examiner’s office.

“This is an ME-driven case at this point,” he said. “It’s more of a mystery than a crime at this point.”

He said they’re not sure how many separate sets of remains were found, only that it was “more than one.”

The owner of the unit where the remains were found in a freezer by cleaners has been identified, but Borghesani said, “We’ve had difficulty communicating with the owner for various reasons.” While Borghesani declined to elaborate, and declined to identify the apartment where the frozen remains were recovered or the owner’s name, someone outside the DA’s office and familiar with the probe suggested the owner’s health issues have slowed progress in the investigation.

A lot depends on what the ME comes up with.

My wife and I were watching a TV news report on the remains found at our old address the other night. A local resident described the neighborhood as safe. Which it is. But it’s not as if hidden bodies are unprecedented in our old neighborhood.


In the 1980s, Whitey Bulger, the Southie gangster, buried three of his victims under the basement floor of a house at 799 East Third St. that he called The Haunty, about 1,000 feet away from 838 East Broadway. When the guy who owned the house put it on the market, Whitey ordered his minions to dig up the bodies and re-bury them in Neponset.

The chances of the mystery at 838 East Broadway involving gangsters are slim and none. But lives ended there prematurely, to this point unexplained. It’s not The Haunty, but haunting.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe reporter and columnist who roams New England. He can be reached at