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Murder in Boston Podcast: Guide to episode 1

Charles Stuart dials 911 from his car phone. He’s lost somewhere in Boston and bleeding out. His pregnant wife, Carol, is in the seat next to him, with a gunshot wound to the head. This white couple from the suburbs was just carjacked upon leaving a birthing class at a hospital and drawn deep into Mission Hill. They are the epitome of the urban nightmare of the late 1980s. And their terror is captured on tape.

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For more about this episode:

– Read Chapter 1 of the Globe’s written series on the Charles Stuart case

– Find out more about the characters interviewed throughout the podcast

– Look at documents related to this podcast


ADRIAN WALKER (host): Before we begin, this episode contains some offensive language and descriptions of violence. It may not be appropriate for all listeners.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher): Boston, recorded, emergency 5-1-0.

Archived Recording (Chuck Stuart): My wife’s been shot. I’ve been shot.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher): Where is this, sir?

Archived Recording (Chuck Stuart) I have no idea. I’m off. I was just coming from Tremont, Brigham and Women’s Hospital It’s 8:43 on the night of October 23, 1989.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher): Where are you right now, sir, can you indicate to me?

Archived Recording (Chuck Stuart): No, I don’t know. I don’t know. We drove, he made us go to an abandoned area.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): A man calls 911 from his car phone. He’s lost somewhere in Boston.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher): Okay, sir, can you see out the window? Can you tell me where you are, please?

Archived Recording (Chuck Stuart): No. I don’t know. I don’t see any signs. Oh, God.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Chuck Stuart is in the driver’s seat. His wife, Carol, is next to him. She’s seven months pregnant.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher): Okay. Has your wife been shot as well?

Archived Recording (Chuck Stuart): Yes, in the head.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Moments ago, they were at a nearby hospital, taking a birthing class, preparing to welcome their first child.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher): Okay, sir, bear with me now. Standby. Stay on the phone with me.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Chuck’s from the suburbs. He doesn’t live around here. All he knows is that he’s on the wrong side of Huntington Avenue, and he’s scared. He’s crossed over this main artery of a road, gone past the dividing line. On one side of Huntington Avenue, you’ve got prestigious hospitals and fancy museums. Now, he’s on the other side, in a mixed race neighborhood called Mission Hill. A place that people from the suburbs know to avoid.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher): Okay, Chuck. Help’s going to be on the way. Bear with me. Is your wife breathing?

Archived Recording (Chuck Stuart): She’s gurgling.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Chuck says a man with a gun forced him to drive here.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher): Are the people that shot you, are they in the area, right there?

Archived Recording (Chuck Stuart): No, they took off. No, they left.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher): Okay.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Carol is bleeding out in the front seat beside him. They’re racing against an unforgiving clock.

Archived Recording (Chuck Stuart): Oh, man.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher): Chuck. Chuck, can you give me anything? Just look out the window. Can you see anything?

Archived Recording (Chuck Stuart): Oh. I’m blanking out.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher): You can’t blank out on me. I need you, man. Chuck. Chuck.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): They’re not the only people shot in Boston that night, but their story is the one that captures the attention of the nation for weeks. It will alter the image of Boston forever. It’s something people here will be living with and talking about for decades to come.

Archived Recording (Reporter 1): Topping News 7 tonight, a brutal attack on a pregnant woman and her husband as they left childbirth classes at a Boston hospital.

Archived Recording (Reporter 2): The Stuart case was one of those news stories that exploded from inside your television set.

Archived Recording (Reporter 2): Several police officers said tonight the stakes have changed in the street wars.

Archived Recording (Leslie Harris): I remember that evening, said whoever did this needs to go straight to hell.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): It was the ultimate urban nightmare: an innocent white couple with a baby on the way, shot in the heart of the city.

Archived Recording (Reporter): We feel vulnerable because we are vulnerable. So many of us can see ourselves in the Stuarts’ car.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): This was one of the most sensational crimes in the city’s history — and it was all captured on tape. In a time before smartphones and 24-hour cable news cycles, it went viral.

Archived Recording (Reporter): From Boston tonight, we have a nightmare, a story of random crime and violent death.

Archived Recording (Pat Buchanan): ..a near wipe out of a family that came into the suburbs. It is a dramatic and horrendous thing.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): The hunt for the attacker engulfed Boston for months. The crime and its aftermath exposed truths about the city and the country few wanted to confront. Race, class, crime and punishment. The city’s raw nerves were exposed. Everyone thought they knew what happened. But what you believed depended on the lens you brought to it. Boston’s simmering tensions were about to boil over.

Howard Bryant: Everything is building up to this moment, in terms of how we really felt about each other. And this was the stick of dynamite that finally went off.

DonJuan Moses: Like, life switched just that fast.

Greg Moore: Nothing’s going to be the same again. That’s what I said to myself. I knew at that moment.

Joey Bennett: You can’t make this shit up. Oh, but they did make it up.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): My name is Adrian Walker. I’m a columnist and associate editor at the Boston Globe. I was here when this happened. I saw it on the 11 o’clock news that night. And as a young reporter, new to Boston, this was a ‘holy shit’ moment.

People were talking about race wars, martial law, the death penalty. All kinds of crazy stuff. They called the shooter “an animal.”

As a transplant from Miami, I’d already been told that my experience in Boston would be different because I’m Black. Back then, colleagues warned me to be careful going into certain neighborhoods, like South Boston. I’d covered crime in the city already, but this was different.

Dianne Wilkerson: I think it’s the biggest embarrassment in the city of Boston and they want it to go away.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): But it never went away for me. I thought I knew this story inside out, but I’ve learned there’s much more to it. Our team of Boston Globe reporters has been digging up all the old files and uncovering new investigative findings.

Andrew Ryan: (CLICK) How do you not come forward?!

Evan Allen: (WHISPERS) I feel like at any minute someone might come in and take these away.

Andrew Ryan: It’s absolutely crazy.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Stay with us. We’re going to tell the story in a way it’s never been told before. We’re going to tell the story the right way.

Christine Norwood: I still feel the coverage has never really been done properly. They don’t have us, who had happened to side of it.. and I often wondered why. And it basically boils down because they didn’t really give a shit about us.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): This podcast is a look at the quintessential Boston story, a place where race and crime, fact and perception all collide in a tragic way. And it all begins in Mission Hill. This is Murder in Boston: The Untold Story of the Charles and Carol Stuart Shooting, Episode 1: The Crime.

DonJuan Moses: I’m at 100% of agreement of being, uh, help document about something that should have been spoken so long ago. This just shows that what you put under the rug, it sticks out til someone cares, like you guys, to come pull it out to be examined. And, that’s why I’m happy to be part of it.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): DonJuan Moses grew up in Mission Hill.

DonJuan Moses: Where this building is right now, where the third story is, that was a brick building, and we lived on the third floor. Seven Racine Court, Apt. 38 and 39. Here in Mission Hill, when it was projects and bricks. It’s just.. you can’t forget this.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): What DonJuan sees walking around the streets these days is vastly different from what he saw when he was a kid here.

DonJuan Moses: Right now, we have buildings, community centers, much bigger. We have condos. It was not condos and townhouses. This was just a dirt road. It was a big old parking lot, but just dirt.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): But one thing feels the same. The memory of the shooting of Chuck and Carol Stuart -- and everything around it -- continues to be embedded in this place and its people. It’s certainly still alive here, for him.

DonJuan Moses: Telling the truth now, looking at that building, high rising buildings… You can’t ever forget that, right there, with that case. That’s Charles Stuart case all day, those buildings. No matter what situation changed around it, those buildings are still there.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): DonJuan’s in his mid-40s now.

DonJuan Moses: I am 6′5″, African-American, brown eyes, very passionate about everything I do.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): He’s a personal care worker in a hospice up in Maine.

DonJuan Moses: And my hat says “love.” There’s a million hats of everything that’s out there but I’d rather be what you wear.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): DonJuan’s actually got a bunch of these hats. He buys them here and he drives them back up to Maine. He gives them out to the hospice patients in his care.

DonJuan Moses: I come back home to buy them. That’s what I’m doing this weekend. If I can give it to those that’s passing and let them know they’re going to die with love.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): He’s proud of how far he’s come from these streets.

DonJuan Moses: Grandpa gave me a challenge before he died. He said, “Be what you never had. Let it be seen through your actions, your clothes and your words.” So I became “love.” Something I never had. And I helped kids in my state. He said, “You could become what you went through, or overcome it.”

ADRIAN WALKER (host): His grandpa was talking about DonJuan’s childhood in Mission Hill. DonJuan is the only one of his eight siblings who didn’t go to prison.

DonJuan Moses: First one to touch foot in college, first one to graduate high school. Oh, the second one, after my brother. His high school diploma came in the mail after he got murdered.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): It’s no accident that this is where the murder happened.

DonJuan Moses: All you got to tell somebody is where you came from. “Where you live?” “Mission Hill Projects.” “Oh, alright I know who you are.” You already got a label.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): But let’s back up, because Mission Hill has been a whole bunch of different neighborhoods over the years – it’s like an archaeological dig. More than a hundred years ago, this is where Irish, German, and Italian immigrants settled. It was working class and deeply religious. There’s a big Romanesque revival church right in the heart of the neighborhood known as Mission Church. Anywhere you stand in the neighborhood, you can see its spires. People understand the geography of Mission Hill in relation to this church.

DonJuan Moses: This is Tremont. Yeah, Tremont because the Mission Church is up the street.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): The public housing projects called “Mission Main” were built between 1938 and 1940. At first, the residents were pretty much all white. By the early 60s, white people were leaving the city in droves and heading for the suburbs. Meanwhile, there was a huge influx of Hispanic people from Puerto Rico and Black Southerners looking to flee racial terror in their own towns. Many started settling in Mission Hill, and by the 80s, the neighborhood had flipped to being mostly Black and Hispanic. Lots of people talk about that time in really nostalgic terms.

Christine Norwood: It was just a happier time. People looked out for one another. You know, it still had the vibe where Miss Rudolph could tell Joyce Johnson’s child to “stop that, I’m going to tell your mother,” you know, it was a community. Everybody kind of knew you. You know, you knew, the kids knew the kids. The mamas knew the mamas.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Christine Norwood came to Mission Hill as a little girl in ‘64. She loves the place now and she loved it back then.

Christine Norwood: People were outside. Kids were playing, you know, children were outside, riding their bikes and playing and sliding up and down the cellars.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): All the apartments had stairs leading from the sidewalk down to the cellars.

Christine Norwood: And then on each side was a slant so that they had packages they could slide them down. Okay? Now the kids get cardboard, Plexiglas, anything, and they slide down the cellar. Well, when you slide down the cellar, at the end of the cellar is a brick wall! Okay, so no mother wants you playin’ the cellar. Lot of kids – no teeth.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): But all that changed in the mid-80s when crack arrived. A major dealer from New York set up shop in Boston, and that was it. Crack was everywhere, along with heroin and cocaine. And the bit of the sweetness of the early 80s was just gone.

Christine Norwood: Back then, it was easy to walk on the street and catch a crowd of guys. And if you wanted whatever it is they were selling, you can go up there and get what you wanted.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): That’s the Mission Hill that DonJuan’s mom moved to.

DonJuan Moses: It’s like being entered into a jungle because it was so chaotic.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): DonJuan was 11, a kid trying to understand the world but growing up too fast.

DonJuan Moses: My mom always telling you, “Be home before the street light. I don’t want nothing to happen to you.” You got drug dealers every other corner, stuff hidden inside trees. They got kids being mules. I remember when I turned 12, the guy told me, “Just watch this tree. I’ll give you 20 bucks to stand here and watch this tree.” I didn’t know what he was talking about or what it was, but I went home and told my mom about what just happened. She was like and brought me back to the corner and said to the guy, “Don’t ever do that again.” I don’t even know what I did wrong. All I know, I was standing next to a tree, not realizing I was playing possum for someone’s stash, not knowing, I was just a kid. So it was crazy at that time and walking through, you know, you got undercover cops, you got gangs moving back and forth, everybody belligerent, drinking. You know, it was hard being a kid at that age.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): DonJuan tried to stay out of it. He said his basketball was his best friend. And when he wasn’t on the court, he was squirreled away in the library.

DonJuan Moses: I was running from kids not to get jumped when I was sitting there and reading. I just stayed in there and just read, just stayed. Oh, I just.. The books talk to you.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): But by the late 80s, the violence was all around him. There was no way to escape it.

DonJuan Moses: And that’s where the two heroin addicts fought in the alleyway and a bullet shot through the window.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): The bullet tore through his family’s apartment.

DonJuan Moses: It would have caught me in the forehead if I didn’t kneel down to change the channel when I did. So people used to think, wait right there at the corner for people to come down this hill, mug them, and then run back through there. A Caucasian man was in that trash can, in that dumpster. All I noticed was, by his legs and his shoes. That was the first dead body I think we ever witnessed. My whole dream was just to make it to 21. I didn’t think I would make it. Between the police and the street? No.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): As he walks through his old neighborhood, DonJuan catches sight of somebody he grew up with. They embrace.

DonJuan Moses: What’s up, man? I’m a survivor.

DonJuan’s friend: How you feeling man?

DonJuan Moses: I’m living man.

DonJuan’s friend: Oh you been living.

DonJuan Moses: I’m living.

DonJuan’s friend: It’s been a while, man.

DonJuan Moses: It’s been a while, baby. I’m glad you still recognize a brother, man.

DonJuan Moses: Adrian Walker His friend is wearing a bright orange hoodie that reads, “I survived the 90s.” You see his shirt?

Andrew Ryan: I did.

DonJuan Moses: I survived the 90s! I’m definitely getting a shot with him. I’m definitely getting a picture with them. I survived-oh my god!

ADRIAN WALKER (host): DonJuan’s old friend carries with him some of the same painful history of the neighborhood.

DonJuan Moses: His cousin got shot and killed over here, in this building over here.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): So this is Mission Hill in the summer of 1989, just before the Stuart shooting. It’s a pretty brutal place – but it’s also full of people like DonJuan, who are just trying to make it through alive. No one has ever asked DonJuan about his story. Like many people we talked to for this podcast, DonJuan didn’t think it mattered. After all, he had nothing to do with the Stuart shooting. He was just an 11 year-old kid.

DonJuan Moses: I never thought it would mean anything. I just thought it was something in my archives that I had to just keep and see it as a layer of skin, that I made it through it.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): But everything that is about to be set in motion with Chuck Stuart’s 911 call, will directly impact folks like DonJuan and Christine Norwood. Everyone in Mission Hill has a story from that time. It was the beginning of what would come to be called “Boston’s hot summer.”

Archived Recording (Reporter 1): Throughout this summer of 1989, police and city officials took the offensive with an aggressive campaign against Boston’s gangs.

Archived Recording (Ray Flynn, Boston Mayor): It’s a senseless violence generated by the frightening plague of drugs and guns in our society.

Archived Recording (Reporter 2): Boston’s gang warfare appears to be heating up and the city’s neighborhoods are feeling the burn.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): This wasn’t totally new. The previous summer, a young girl was killed in another part of the city, caught in crossfire between rival gangs.

Archived Recording (Reporter): Tiffany Moore at 12 became an unwitting victim of drugs, thugs, and Boston’s turf warfare.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): And it wasn’t just Boston. In the spring of ‘89 a jogger was attacked in Central Park and five Black teens were blamed for the crime.

Archived Recording (Reporter): And in New York City, after a Central Park rampage of assault and rape by a pack of youths, police have learned a new term: “wilding.”

ADRIAN WALKER (host): There was an almost hysterical concern about violence in the so-called “inner city.” And, really, “city” and “suburbs” were just a proxy for “Black” and “white.” And all of this violence seemed to be connected to drugs.

Archived Recording (George H.W. Bush): This. This is crack cocaine.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): The month before Chuck Stuart would make his desperate 911 call…

Archived Recording (George H.W. Bush): All of us agree that the gravest domestic threat facing our nation today is drugs.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): ...then-president George H. W. Bush addressed the nation.

Archived Recording (George H.W. Bush): Our most serious problem today is cocaine, and in particular crack. Who’s responsible? Everyone who uses drugs, everyone who sells drugs and everyone who looks the other way.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): So, in 1989, the city and the country were on edge. Fear had helped propel so many families – just like Chuck and Carol Stuart’s – to the suburbs. Everyone believed there was safety outside the city. And by October of ‘89, the Stuarts were firmly settled in, preparing their home for a baby.

They pulled their blue Cressida into the parking garage at Brigham and Women’s Hospital on a crisp evening. This was the most prestigious maternity hospital in the city and also the most popular. Half of Boston was born here. It is on the fancy side of that Huntington Avenue dividing line, just a couple blocks away from the heart of Mission Hill.

Kim Woodward: I, like Carol, was pregnant in 1989, expecting my first child.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Kim Woodward and her husband were in the same birthing class that night, along with about 10 other couples.

Kim Woodward: We had been in the class just weeks, maybe three, four weeks. And we all felt like we were at that point where, okay, this is getting closer. And they said you could bring your pillows next week and it’s like, “Oh my gosh! This is real.”

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Kim and her husband also lived in the suburbs.

Kim Woodward: We were all in the same boat, sitting there with our big bellies and our babies, and all the promise of what that meant. But, you know what we were planning and what was coming up.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): In class, she sat next to the Stuarts. Carol, in a white sweatshirt with her shoulder-length brown wavy hair, stood out.

Kim Woodward: I don’t think I asked any questions. I didn’t know what to ask, but Carol had a lot. She said, “My doctor said to me I might need to have a C-section.” So, she had a lot of questions.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Kim noticed Chuck too, for a different reason.

Kim Woodward: Her husband sat next to me and I thought he was so nervous. He just really was out of it. And I was laughing with Steve on the way home. I said, “That poor guy, he’s so nervous. Can you imagine what he’s going to be like on, you know, Labor Day when he has this baby?”

ADRIAN WALKER (host): The class ends around 8:30 p.m. and the couples head home in their cars. Around the same time, a couple miles away in the South End, paramedic Rich Serino is hard at work.

Rich Serino: It was actually a very crazy busy day.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): There was a fire at a high-rise that morning. And then a major car crash on the Tobin, the bridge that connects the city to the northern suburbs.

Rich Serino: There was, like, cars hanging over the bridge.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Rich was in his twenties, just a couple years on the job at that point. He grew up in Boston and knew the streets well. It had already been a long day when dispatch called.

Rich Serino: And said, “Hey, do you want overtime tonight?” And it’s like, “Yes, absolutely.” You know, take some overtime.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): And this was a bit of a special assignment.

Rich Serino: They said, “Well, it’s going to be probably taking around the Rescue 911 crew.” I was like, “Yeah, okay.”

ADRIAN WALKER (host): That’s Rescue 911. It was a popular new TV show. Its crew went from city to city, chasing ambulances, and filming first responders in action. (RESCUE 911 THEME MUSIC) The show offered a blood-and-guts look inside real ambulances and ERs.

Archived Recording (William Shatner): The footage that follows is not a recreation. It was taped during a ride along with the Boston Emergency Medical Service.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): So Rich has a camera crew with him in his emergency vehicle. This is critical and could be a blessing – or maybe a curse. Because either way, Boston’s biggest crime is largely captured by a TV crew.

Rich Serino: I had this film crew sitting next to me and wired and mic’d up.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): At first, the action is pretty routine. There’s a stabbing in the South End, not the kind of drama the TV crew is looking for. Then…

Rich Serino: I’m on Mass Ave and I start hearing down by City Hospital, you know, the reports. It was just something really different that was going on.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): The dispatcher working that night sends out a call to emergency crews, including Rich’s.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher 1): .. a blue Toyota Cressida, this is coming in from a cellular phone.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher 2): He’s supposed to be shot. His wife’s also shot. At Huntington and Tremont.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Emergency dispatchers have a general sense of where Chuck and Carol are, not far from the hospital, somewhere in Mission Hill. But Chuck can’t say exactly where.

Archived Recording (Chuck Stuart): I can’t move. Oh, God.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher): Chuck, can you see anyone on the street? Pull over.

Archived Recording (Chuck Stuart): I’m looking. I’m looking. There’s not too many people.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher): Okay, calm down. Just hang out with me. I’m going to have assistance right there to you. Open a door and talk to anyone that passes by, my friend. Anybody at all. I want to talk to somebody, find out exactly where you are.

Rich Serino: The Boston police dispatcher’s trying to locate where they are. And so they have a general sense of Brigham Circle, you know, but that’s a large area.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher): Chuck, we’re on the way, but you’ve got to tell me a little better where you are. I need a little better location to find you immediately. Chuck, can you open the door?

Archived Recording (Chuck Stuart): Yeah, ohh.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher): Where are you shot, Chuckie? Hello, Chuck? Chuck, can you hear me, Chuck? I lost him. I lost him.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Precious seconds are ticking by and Chuck… has gone silent on the line.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher): Come on, Chuck. I can hear you breathing. Can you hear me, Chuck? Pick up the phone.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Several police cars are searching the area for the couple. The dispatcher, still on the phone, has an idea —

Archived Recording (Dispatcher 2): Hey, wait a minute do you hear the sirens over there?

Archived Recording (Dispatcher 1): Do you hear the siren? I can hear the siren.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher 2): On the cellular phone.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Chuck isn’t talking, but the dispatchers can hear police sirens through the phone. They realize they can use the sirens to locate the couple.

Rich Serino: Turn on your sirens and turn them off. So they could hear through the cellphone where they were on the fly, to triangulate exactly where this is and where the police cars were.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher 2): 9-11, put on your siren now. (SIREN SOUND) And are you still hearing the sirens?

Archived Recording (Dispatcher 1): Negative, negative on the siren.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher 1): Archived Recording (Dispatcher 2) Bravo K-1, sound your siren. (SIREN SOUND) Not yet, no siren.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher 2): Bravo K-1 shut off your siren. Bravo 1-4, sound your siren.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher 1): And then, on the fourth or fifth try — Definite location. We heard the siren.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher 2): We’ve located him at McGreevey and St. Alphonsus.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): EMS and Boston police arrive at the same time. A crowd is already starting to gather.

Archived Recording (Boston Police Department Officer): (SIREN SOUND) Out of the way. Come on. Come on. Alright guys, step back, step back!

Rich Serino: Then there was the car. They were both still in the car. He was in the driver’s seat. She was in the passenger side.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Serino and another paramedic get to work.

Rich Serino: Kevin and I stayed with Chuck and started taking care of him. And he kept saying over and over, you know, don’t take care of me.

Archived Recording (Chuck Stuart): Take care of my wife.

Archived Recording (Emergency Medical Technician): Yeah. People are taking care of her.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Their injuries are dire.

Rich Serino: He had a pretty significant gunshot wound. You know, she had a gunshot wound to the head. We wanted to make sure that the baby gets to the hospital. You want to try to keep the mother alive. You have a woman who’s in cardiac arrest. The horrific incidents, you don’t stop to say, “Oh, this is horrific.” You just go in and take care of people. You’re in autopilot at that point.

Evan Richman: When I got there, the scene was pure pandemonium.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Evan Richman was the first photographer there.

Evan Richman: I was kind of the junior man and I was working the late shift.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): He was working for the Boston Herald and had been listening to the police radios.

Evan Richman: And by the time the police dispatcher broadcast the location of the incident, I was only a couple of blocks away.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): He followed an ambulance to the scene.

Evan Richman: People were leaning inside the front windows of the car. Obviously, the EMTs were leaning in to assist the victims.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): TV cameras captured Evan there, in the fray. You can even hear the click of his camera.

Archived Recording (Police Officer): Archived Recording (Unidentified) Evan, you got that one? (CAMERA SHUTTER SOUNDS) Push me again you’re going to jail, now push back!

ADRIAN WALKER (host): He’s so focused on taking pictures that he barely registers the tragedy unfolding in front of him.

Evan Richman: When you’re taking a picture in a fast moving news situation like that, you’re not always looking at exactly what you’re photographing. You’re thinking about the technical aspects, the focus, the composition, the exposure. I wasn’t really looking directly at it like you would looking at a photograph. I was thinking about a lot of different things, trying to capture that image on film.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): He doesn’t know it yet, but he has memorialized a moment that will not only depict the horror of the crime, but come to define the worst of Boston.

Evan Richman: It was all focused around a car. And I made a few frames of the car.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): It’s a close up. The dark of the night, lit up by a flash. It’s as if you are sitting right on the hood of the car, looking straight through the windshield. Carol Stuart is slumped to her side. Her white sweatshirt is splashed with blood. Her dark wavy hair covers the worst of it. And Chuck... he’s in the driver’s seat, leaning back and grimacing, the white of his teeth in sharp contrast to the bib of dark blood on his shirt.

Adrian Walker: Did you know whether they were alive?

Evan Richman: The woman seemed like she wasn’t or barely. She was in grave condition. I think that was evident. The man in the driver’s seat was squirming around, making faces like he was injured, but he was evidently alive.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): It’s an image that we will still be talking about decades later.

Rich Serino: You cut seatbelts, you cut his clothes off. We went to get Carol out first and then we were able to get him out shortly thereafter.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): The Rescue 911 footage shows all of it: blood, pain, panic. After Chuck’s stretcher is loaded into the ambulance, a police officer leans over and speaks with him.

Archived Recording (Police Officer): Did you see who did this? Who did this?

Archived Recording (Chuck Stuart): Black man.

Archived Recording (Police Officer): Adrian Walker It’s hard to make out, but the officer asks “Who did this?” Chuck says “Black man.” One guy? Two guys? What did he look like?

Archived Recording (Chuck Stuart): Black male.

Archived Recording (Police Officer): Black male. What did he have on clothing, do you remember? Black running suit? Any stripes on it? What color?

Archived Recording (Police Officer): Red? Did he have a mustache?

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Chuck tells the cop the shooter was wearing a tracksuit with stripes on it. He doesn’t offer much else, but it’s enough to cement the image of the main suspect.

Archived Recording (Dispatcher): A shooting at McGreevey and St. Alphonsus, black male, 30 years of age, black running suit with a white stripe.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Chuck and Carol are taken to different hospitals. Carol goes back to the hospital they had left just minutes ago. Chuck goes to a trauma unit elsewhere.

While all this was unfolding, a man named Louis Elisa is at an event at a Masonic Lodge in Boston, an all Black fraternal organization.

Louis Elisa: We were all there at Prince Hall, 25 Washington Street. Room was filled with people and we were having this really important ceremony.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Louis is one of Boston’s leading civil rights activists, president of the Boston branch of the NAACP, and well acquainted with the powers-that-be in town.

Louis Elisa: I was a mason and I’m still a mason in Prince Hall Grand Lodge and a number of brothers in my lodge, members in my particular lodge, were police officers.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): All of a sudden, their police radios start going off. Everybody’s getting called in. One of the officers tells Louis what’s going on.

Louis Elisa: And he says, “There’s a car that was hijacked by a person they believed to be a junkie and he shoots the wife and the husband.”

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Right away, Louis knew this would not be a routine investigation.

Louis Elisa: He explained that there’s been a shooting and they thought that they had a Black person involved. I said, “Really?” I said, so, you know, of course I’m in my tuxedo and I’m going out to his car. I said, “Take me to the station.”

ADRIAN WALKER (host): They went to Area B, a police precinct not far from the crime scene.

Louis Elisa: So we come back to B2, the old station, and you know, I get out of the car and I go in and I see all these police piling in. Looks like one of those things that used to happen back to the civil rights days or in the Vietnam demonstration days. These guys.. they got shields, they’ve got these batons, you know, they got shotguns. And I’m like, “What?” And so I go in on the first floor and there’s the desk. And then behind the desk, I think was the night commander. And I said, you know, “Who’s in charge here?” And they said, “Oh, the mayor’s in the back.”

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Mayor Ray Flynn. He’d been Boston’s mayor for two terms and he had a habit of going to high-profile crime scenes like this. He and his boyhood friend, Police Commissioner Mickey Roache, were at the station, giving orders.

Louis Elisa: And I looked at Mickey. I said, “What are we doing here?”

ADRIAN WALKER (host): The mayor’s bodyguard tried to shoo Louis away.

Louis Elisa: He says, “You know, you don’t need to be in here. This is not something that, you know, that you have anything to do with.” I said, “Well, apparently it is because I heard that you’ve accused, you know, your guys accusing a Black person of shooting some white woman in the head,” you know. And I said, “Ray, you need to take ten Mississippi– You need to stop.” I said, “You’re running in the wrong direction.” And he says, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

ADRIAN WALKER (host): After failing to convince the mayor to slow down, Louis appealed to Boston’s top cop.

Louis Elisa: I turned to Mickey Roache and I said, “Mickey, you’re the commissioner.” I never forget that. I said, “You know, this doesn’t feel right and it doesn’t sound right.” He says, “What am I going to do, Lou? I mean, you know, he’s the mayor.”

Archived Recording (Ray Flynn, Boston Mayor): And the family was at the hospital tonight and a priest was there saying a prayer. And it makes you– it breaks your heart to see this kind of situation.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Mayor Flynn rushed to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where Carol was clinging to life.

Archived Recording (Ray Flynn, Boston Mayor): It’s a tragic situation that everybody’s heart goes out to the family.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Flynn held a hasty press conference late that night. He wore a green Boston Police warmup jacket and stood next to one of Roache’s top deputies.

Archived Recording (Joe Dunford, Boston Police Department Deputy Superintendent): My understanding is that the female is in serious condition and as is the male, and I cannot comment further on the condition. I just don’t know.

Archived Recording (Reporter 1): We understand that she was pregnant and they were able to save the baby through Cesarean.

Archived Recording (Joe Dunford, BPD Deputy Superintendent): My understanding is that the delivery was made of the child.

Archived Recording (Reporter 1): And the condition of the child?

Archived Recording (Joe Dunford, BPD Deputy Superintendent): I don’t know the condition of the child.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Carol’s baby was delivered by Cesarean section that night. He was named Christopher. Both of his parents were in critical condition at the time of his birth. Chuck was in surgery. And Carol, she died hours later.

Archived Recording (Ray Flynn, Boston Mayor): It’s another example of the availability of guns that are so frequent. Seems like it’s happening every single day.

Archived Recording (Joe Dunford, BPD Deputy Superintendent): Full investigation underway. We have no suspects in custody. We do have this good description of the assailant.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): At the press conference, Mayor Flynn turned the shooting into a citywide emergency – just in time for the 11 p.m. news.

Archived Recording (Ray Flynn, Boston Mayor): I’ve asked the commissioner, just as I was talking to him a little while ago, I’ve asked him to put every single available detective in the city of Boston on this case to find out who the people or person who was responsible for this cowardly, senseless tragedy.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Every. Single. Available. Detective. There were shootings in Boston almost every night back then, but this was different. From the moment it happened, the Stuart case — as it came to be known — was considered an exceptional act of violence.

Archived Recording (Reporter 1): Authorities have identified the woman as Carol Stuart of Reading.

Archived Recording (Reporter 2): Doctors managed to save their baby, performing an emergency Cesarean section. The baby is also in critical condition tonight.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): It led the news that night. And around that time, Herald photographer, Evan Richman, was back in the newsroom. His film had been whisked away from the scene and developed by a colleague. He hadn’t even seen the photos yet.

Evan Richman: I went down to the press room when they’re just starting to print the papers and I got one.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): He was one of the first to see the front page.

Evan Richman: It was shocking to see. It was very shocking to see. It’s tough to look at. It’s such a gruesome picture.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Chuck and Carol in the front car seats, covered in blood. Carol, in the process of dying. Even by tabloid standards, the picture is extraordinarily graphic.

In the morning, the entire city of Boston will see the gory crime scene. And in the days to come, they’ll hear the dramatic 911 call again and again. Today, we’ve got phones and video cameras in our pockets. But back in 1989, you just didn’t see a brutal killing like this up close.

Archived Recording (Reporter 1): The murder of Carol Stuart on Mission Hill Monday night is forcing all of us to confront something awful and real about life in our city in 1989.

Archived Recording (Reporter 2): Residents here are expressing another emotion: fear. Fear of a big city that’s becoming increasingly violent and whose tentacles are now reaching far out into quiet suburban communities.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): It terrifies white Boston and unnerves Black Boston.

Greg Moore: I just knew from that moment on that everything was going to be different and this story was [to] be like no other I’ve ever seen.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): This story taps into a primal American fear, that of an innocent white woman - pregnant, no less - dead at the hand of a Black man. In Mission Hill, DonJuan remembers the impact was immediate.

DonJuan Moses: You said, “A Black man did it. That’s all we need to know. Raid the project, flood the projects. Get everybody out. I want lineups regularly. I want them to be able to tell us which one looks like who, and so forth.” That’s all they was in [the] mindset for.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Soon, police will knock down doors and strip-search young men. They’ll lead a massive manhunt. With Chuck’s description, virtually every Black male in Mission Hill is a suspect. And then, the district attorney ups the ante, appearing on a nightly talk show and calling for the death penalty.

Billy Dunn: Now the chase is on. Who did it?

Evan Allen: So you knew right away that with the story about the Black man jumping in the car, they were going to tear apart Mission Hill?

Wolfie Alexander: Oh, hell, yeah!

ADRIAN WALKER (host): That’s on the next episode of Murder in Boston.


Murder in Boston: The Untold Story of the Chuck and Carol Stuart Shooting is presented by The Boston Globe and HBO Documentary Films. This podcast was reported and written by Globe journalists Evan Allen, Elizabeth Koh, Andrew Ryan, and me – your host, associate editor Adrian Walker.

The project was led and co-written by Assistant Managing Editor Brendan McCarthy and Globe Head of Audio, Kristin Nelson. Nelson served as senior producer. Melissa Rosales is the associate producer.

Our theme music is Speak Upon It by Boston’s own Edo G. Reza Dahya is our sound designer. Voice over direction by Athena Karkanis. Research from Jeremiah Manion. Fact-checking by Matt Mahoney. The Boston Globe’s executive editor is Nancy Barnes. Thanks to former Globies Brian McGrory and Scott Allen and to Boston Globe Media CEO, Linda Henry.

Additional interviews and audio courtesy of Jason Hehir and Little Room Films.