The shocking Stuart shooting incites a massive dragnet for a Black man in a striped track suit. Armed with “stop and frisk” powers, police tear through the Mission Hill neighborhood. Virtually every young Black male is a suspect. Boston is gripped by fear. Race, class, crime and punishment – the city’s raw nerves are laid bare.
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For more about this episode:
– Read Chapter 2 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.
DonJuan Moses: It was a frightening night that night. Heard a lot of sirens. Police going on early in the night. And I was wondering why cops were running in each building. I’m observing, looking outside because I see all the lights and everything going crazy. My mom’s like, “Mind your business. Get away from the window. Ain’t got nothing concerning you.”
ADRIAN WALKER (host): On the night Chuck and Carol Stuart were shot, DonJuan Moses was 11 years old. Just a kid in Mission Hill.
DonJuan Moses: Life switched just that fast. You heard all that trembling up the stairs. Do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do, that’s feet.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): DonJuan was at home with his mom, grandma, and older cousin. The grownups were playing spades.
DonJuan Moses: I’m watching the game, learning the game. I’m just standing over his shoulder, watching, like trying to learn the game, I was like, oh, man, trying to count the books.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): They had no idea about the shooting nearby, but then, there was this noise in the hallway. His mom said it was nothing.
DonJuan Moses: She didn’t pay no mind to it, until it came to our door. And boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom! Didn’t answer fast enough. Boom, boom, boom! Like, what the hell is that? And before she can even actually look through the peephole, I open the door.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): It’s the Boston Police. And they were looking for DonJuan’s cousin.
DonJuan Moses: They came rushing in, like, he was like a key witness, a key person to their case. Looking around the house, everybody’s freaking out, yelling like, “What’s going on?” And they just grabbed my cousin.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): His cousin wasn’t some key witness. Quite simply, he fit the description of Chuck and Carol Stuart’s shooter: Black. Male. Those two simple words described tens of thousands of people in this city. And they launched a manhunt throughout Black Boston that ensnared hundreds, including DonJuan’s cousin.
DonJuan Moses: They grabbed him, threw his face to the table. He’s struggling, like, “What are you doing?” da da da, like, you know, boom! Take him. Slam against the side of a wall, bust his face up on the wall, snatch him up. He’s telling my mom, call his mom. They throw the cuffs on him, basically drag him down three flights of stairs. Thank God he didn’t break his arm or his wrist. They treat him like trash. Just seeing them round people up and throw them in a paddy wagon. And it was, like, the most scariest thing ever to see that, like, wow.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): The police didn’t charge DonJuan’s cousin with anything. And he was back home the next day. There’s no official record of the raid on DonJuan’s home, at least not in the thousands of documents we reviewed. And sure, this exchange could seem small in the grand scheme of things, but not to DonJuan. It changed his understanding of the world and his place in it. That frightening night, those footsteps up the stairs, the banging on the door. He’s in his 40′s now, and he still doesn’t trust the police.
DonJuan Moses: I got a camera in my car on my windshield because I’m feared of what can happen. If anything was ever happened to me, I’m good enough for technology where I have that sent to my hard drive to send to people, that, to be aware of what happened to me last. You know, I can’t trust their word over mine... ever.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): The police response in late 1989 would shape the way an entire generation of Black men would look at law enforcement.
DonJuan Moses: I feel like when they first heard this case, one, two, three. They just knew that “You was near the projects, 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. Put somebody to the case.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): On the night of the shooting in late 1989, Boston was seized by panic and rage.
Archived Recording (Reporter): The police presence on the streets of Roxbury tonight was perhaps unprecedented.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): At the hospital nearby, doctors worked on Carol for hours, but they couldn’t save her. A priest administered her last rites. She died just hours after her baby, Christopher, was delivered by C-section. He was immediately put on life support. Chuck, meanwhile, was lucky to be alive. He had a gaping wound in his lower back. The bullet had traveled upwards and diagonally, and torn through his liver and intestines. It missed his aorta by a fraction of an inch. After six hours in surgery, he made it to the ICU. And outside the hospital room? The city was freaking out.
Archived Recording (Reporter): The emotional toll the rash of violence is taking on our residents, our communities and on our city.
Archived Recording (Unidentified Interview Subject): I’ve got a lump in my throat and tears roll up in my eyes.
Archived Recording (Unidentified Interview Subject 2): That just really hits home something that can happen to you any time. And I think it causes terror.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Everyone is looking for the man that pulled the trigger.
Archived Recording (Reporter): The suspect is described as being 28 to 34 years old, Black, medium complexion, 5-foot-10 inches in height, thin, gaunt, build, high cheekbones, a short afro. He has shaggy facial hair, and the husband told police he had a raspy voice with a singsong tone.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Boston Mayor Ray Flynn calls in every available detective to work the case. It’s all hands on deck.
Archived Recording (Ray Flynn, Boston Mayor): I instructed the police commissioner of the city of Boston and the police department to be as aggressive as they ever have been before.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): The police are hunting for one man. But dozens of people are about to be caught up in the dragnet – and some of them are never going to get free.
Joey Bennett: That shit ate at me since I was a kid.
Archived Recording (Judy Mercer): And I have to walk down the street and see three men strip searched in the middle of the street.
Laroy Cox: It’s kind of hard remembering that.
Andrew Ryan: Why’s that?
Laroy Cox: Because I still live it.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Some people have called what happened next a police rampage.
Archived Recording (Reporter): In and around Mission Hill, Boston police put the heat on anyone who was even close to the description of the killer.
Archived Recording (Police Officer): We have a virtually small army on the street.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Almost everyone in Mission Hill who lived through it has a story. But the police – they say those are exaggerations. Sure, maybe a few officers overstepped. But an organized assault on every man and boy in the neighborhood? Fiction. You’re gonna hear people telling their own stories, in their own voices. You decide.
I’m Adrian Walker and this is Murder in Boston: The Untold Story of Charles and Carol Stuart Shooting, Episode 2: The Manhunt.
DonJuan Moses: We are at the Tobin Gym, [a] place that was like a sanctuary to me. Basketball court where I lived so regularly. I lived directly five minutes around the corner.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): DonJuan is back in his old neighborhood, Mission Hill, at the place he used to come to as a kid, the Tobin Center.
DonJuan Moses: They kept up with the place very well. The floors are amazing. The hoops are still there, same exact… still got banners up and everything, man.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): It wasn’t easy to grow up in this neighborhood during the crack epidemic. Every single landmark of his childhood seemed like it was tied to a violent memory: a dead body in a trashcan, or a bullet through a window. But now, standing here in this gym – it’s different. He’s smiling.
DonJuan Moses: That just move my heart to know this is my sanctuary, [a] place where I never had to worry about no police, no brutality, no violence, no nothing. I can sit here and this is like my second home.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): That was the Tobin for a lot of people in Mission Hill.
Ron Bell: And my office used to be right over here…
ADRIAN WALKER (host): One of the guys in charge of the Tobin was Ron Bell and he knew basically every kid in the neighborhood. He thought of himself as a kind of protector of kids like DonJuan.
Ron Bell: I remember working with children who would wait for me on the steps on Saturday morning when I would open up the facility. It became somewhat of a mecca.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): But after the Stuart shooting, cops smothered the community center. Suddenly, the Tobin wasn’t a sanctuary – it was a building full of young Black men wearing tracksuits – just like Chuck’s description.
Ron Bell: I remember the news, a pregnant white woman was allegedly killed by a black man. That’s what we heard. And it was nothing but police in Mission Hill the next day.
Ron Bell: I was walking down Tremont Street here, coming from Mike’s Donuts…
ADRIAN WALKER (host): He was on his way to work when he saw a group of Black guys detained by the police.
Ron Bell: Right here. Lined up in front of here. Right. Right up here. And I was working right in here.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): They had their pants pulled down around their ankles.
Ron Bell: Right here on this fence is where Black men were being strip-searched during the Charles Stuart tragedy in 1989.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): And suddenly, Ron faced this terrible choice. He was the assistant director. He had some power. He could step forward and try to stop the cops, but Ron was also a Black man. He was just as much a suspect as any of these guys... and the cops hadn’t seen him yet.
Ron Bell: And that’s when I turned around.
Adrian Walker: Why did you turn around?
Ron Bell: Because I didn’t want to be subjected to that... and it was intimidating, to be quite frank.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): This feeling of guilt - of complicity – it never left him.
Ron Bell: That memory of being victimized that night... or then months! It wasn’t just a day, Adrian. October 23rd. It was months this went on.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): The city wanted this to be an open-and-shut case, and police promised a quick arrest. But even with every available detective called to action, investigators weren’t catching any easy breaks. And the longer the search for the killer went on, the wider the net was cast. Chuck had described the shooter as a grown man but it seemed like the police had a liberal view of that.
Tito Jackson: I was a 13, 14 year old, skinny, tall, goofy kid.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): The first time Tito Jackson was stopped by the cops, he had just finished playing a game of basketball at the Tobin.
Tito Jackson: It wasn’t a large group. It was like, you know, three or four of us and we weren’t, you know, wild whatever. And in fact, we had just left the gym, right? So, it means we’re tired because we had just basically worked out and we were all headed home to make sure that we did our homework and go back to school the next day.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Today, Tito is a successful entrepreneur and local politician. But in 1989, he was this gangly teenager with a crush on a girl he was desperate to impress. She was also out on the street that day.
Tito Jackson: And we were approached by two officers who got out of a squad car and told us to face the fence. Put our hands up against the fence.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): So there he is in front of this girl. He’s scared but he doesn’t want to show it.
Tito Jackson: And that swagger that you try to exude at that time and how cool you are and and on and the like.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): The cops don’t give a shit about Tito or his crush.
Tito Jackson: Get up against the fence. We were facing the fence. And they patted us down and - “Now drop them.” And we knew what that meant. This was a situation where you know it’s life or death. It is very, very apparent that if you do the wrong thing, there are real consequences.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): So right there, in the middle of the sidewalk on Tremont Street, Tito drops his sweatpants. He stood there with his hands on the fence in his underwear.
Tito Jackson: And at the time, the thing I was most worried about was not being dehumanized. I was a kid, so I was worried that the girl who was there that I had a crush on saw that I did not put lotion on my kneecaps. And so (CHUCKLES) I was and they were making fun of me because I had to drop my pants and my knees had a lot of dry skin. They were ashy. The burn that I had was anger at the police officers, but it was mostly because they embarrassed me.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): He can’t say how long it lasted.
Tito Jackson: Considering that the young lady was laughing at me, it felt like an eternity. (CHUCKLES) And then, you know, they left and then we went off.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Tito would be stopped four or five more times in the weeks that followed.
Tito Jackson: And by the way, we weren’t special. They were doing this to everybody.
Archived Recording (Police Officer 1) Let’s talk to these guys.
[POLICE KNOCKING ON DOORS]
Archived Recording (Police Officer 2): We have officers from just about every unit in the Boston Police Department out working on this case.
Archived Recording (Reporter 1): Intense is the only way you can describe the search that is going on here in Roxbury tonight.
Archived Recording (Reporter 2): They still believe he is somewhere in hiding at the Mission Hill housing projects. And they’re hopeful that he surfaces or that someone turns him in. Police are pressing their street informants, hoping talk on the street will flush out a suspect.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Black men and teens were the primary targets…
Jeff Sanchez: Those few weeks after, it was brutal because they just kept on looking and looking and looking.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): … but others in the neighborhood got swept up too, including a lot of Latino men.
Jeff Sanchez: I’ll never forget them. They were brutal.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Jeff Sanchez was a 19 year-old college student working two jobs when the cops stopped him and a friend.
Jeff Sanchez: There were two massive, very big white men that came at us and went. like, they grabbed us by the back of the neck. You know, in Horadan Way, they threw us in a hallway and told us to drop our pants down because they didn’t want to touch us. Dirty spics and that’s, you know, we’re like, we’re done. We’re done.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): His mom had warned him about what to do in a situation like this.
Jeff Sanchez: She was always telling me when I was a kid, “If the police ever come up to you, you just put your hands up and you just stay quiet.”
ADRIAN WALKER (host): His mom, Maria Sanchez, was a fierce community activist. She was one of the founding members of the Mission Hill task force, a group that advocated for tenants’ rights. She remembers how crazy it was after the killing.
Maria Sanchez: They get into every apartment to search for who kills the lady. The police was going down constantly. [MIMICS SOUNDS] They were crazy about this.
Jeff Sanchez: It was constant.
Maria Sanchez: It was constant, even they go through here. But there was constant, they go through the project like they come on down from everywhere. So everyone else is scared, you know.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Before the shooting, the Mission Hill task force had been begging the cops to come and address the rampant crime. But after – when they saw what the police were doing – the group begged them to leave.
Maria Sanchez: They were scared. The people was very concerned!
ADRIAN WALKER (host): And her son Jeff? He was so disgusted by how he was treated by the police that he left Boston altogether.
Jeff Sanchez: I couldn’t take it. It was too much, you know. And there was a lot of abuse that we went through at that time and during that Stuart murder, it was just… like I said, I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have the will to. And I was afraid that something was going to happen. And I beat myself for it even to now! Because I left and I left my sister and I left my mother.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Jeff stayed away for five years... but not forever. He went on to become a Harvard professor and a state lawmaker, and to study issues of race and class and public policy. But he’s still haunted by the moral questions around what happened in 1989.
Jeff Sanchez: Why did they unleash this wrath on us? You know, why did they do this to us? And with the Black community... Jesus. And they were just being rounded up. They’re being rounded up and it was okay![Song snippet: This is America, by Childish Gambino]
ADRIAN WALKER (host): The cops stopping Black men and boys, almost at random? This wasn’t new… not in Boston or America.
Archived Recording (Anchor): It’s an old American social phenomenon, the widespread rousting of Black males by police.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): In Boston, it was called “stop-and-frisk” or “stop-and-search.” And back in the 80s, when crack arrived and murder rates started soaring, this police tactic was supposed to get guns off the streets.
Archived Recording (Reporter 1): Another night, another shooting in the predominantly Black neighborhood Boston police call Area B. In a recent six week period, Area B had eight murders and nearly 300 armed assaults, robberies and other shooting incidents. So police have begun to stop and search suspected gang members for weapons.
Archived Recording (Police Officer): Everybody, put your hands on the wall! Get your hands on the wall! Everybody get your hands on the wall. I know where you live.
Archived Recording (Reporter 1): They say the searches are conducted legally and only when there is probable cause to believe a weapon will be found.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): In theory, stop and frisk allowed police officers to stop young men who they believed might be carrying a weapon, and search them. Police were supposed to have “reasonable suspicion” – but that can be a pretty squishy concept. About two months before the manhunt for Carol Stuart’s killer, a Massachusetts judge found these searches to be unconstitutional.
Archived Recording (Judge Cortland Mathers): These were stops because they were young and they were Black and they were there.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Judge Cortland Mathers ordered the Boston Police to halt the practice of stop and frisk completely, but the department just refused. So then it was a standoff between the cops and the court. Police officials said they were getting hundreds of guns off the streets and that the policy was working. So they kept stopping and frisking men and boys just like they had before. They didn’t even try to hide it. In fact, not two weeks before the Stuart investigation began, police officers conducting a stop shot an innocent man as he emptied his pockets at their request.
Archived Recording (William Celester, Boston Police Department Deputy Superintendent): I care about people’s civil rights just as much as anybody else.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Here’s Deputy Superintendent Billy Celester, at the time, one of Boston’s highest ranking Black Police officers, defending the practice.
Archived Recording (William Celester, BPD Deputy Superintendent): But I also care about the civil rights of the people in this community that have a right to live and walk down the street without being shot at.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): It’s important to note that not everybody in Boston’s Black community opposed these searches. Violence was nearing its peak in the city and people wanted the police to do something.
Archived Recording (Anchor): The cruel reality of gangs, guns and drugs has hit home with a shocking regularity in recent months.
Archived Recording (Reporter): It has become a staple of the Boston night, a sudden unexplained eruption of urban violence.
Archived Recording (Police Officer): We are faced with a clear and present danger. It is here. It is now. And we’re dealing with it here and now. The Boston Police Department is dealing with it right now.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): We’ve heard it again and again in our reporting. Back then, it was a war and the street cops were the foot soldiers.
Billy Dunn: Everything I did, I did from here. I wear my heart on my sleeve. Everything I did, I did because I believed it was the right thing to do. I don’t regret the way I operated on, especially on the street. I’d like to think I was a good policeman.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): When we started our reporting on this project, and we were asking around about what policing was like in Mission Hill in the 80s, everybody said, “You have to talk to Billy Dunn.”
Billy Dunn: Some call me “The Legend.”
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Billy saw his job in simple terms: He was a good guy, and he was there to get the bad guys.
Billy Dunn: I enjoyed helping people. I liked helping the good and I loved being bad to the bad. Some people deserve to go to jail.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): He was the quintessential Irish Boston cop. And he had the looks to match, 6-foot-2, 300 pounds, a tatted-up former Marine who went from the jungles of Vietnam to the most murderous corners of Boston. The Mission Hill projects were his beat.
Billy Dunn: There were moments that were pretty hairy and scary up there, involving interactions with some bad guys. I mean, we were shot at. People trying to stab us and, maybe Vietnam was a good, good prelude to it.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Billy remembers Mission Hill as a chaotic place. One night, he’s pulling someone out of a fire. Three nights later, that same person is throwing bottles at him. Sounds terrible, right? Well, Billy loved it.
Billy Dunn: It’s cars speeding by, guns going off, people screaming, yelling. When we first went up there, people wouldn’t even come out of their houses. After a few years, they would sit on their doorsteps because they knew the police were around and we were going to do the right thing. But the people were held hostage by five percent of the bad guys that lived up there.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Billy says he knew the neighborhood so well that mothers told him the names of their babies before they were even born. The kids nicknamed him “Fat” and they’d come to him with problems.
Billy Dunn: People used to threaten other people with me. Somebody did something, something wrong to somebody. They would say, “I’m going to tell ‘Fat’ and ‘Skinny.” That was me and my partner or “I’m going to tell Dunn on you.”
ADRIAN WALKER (host): This sounds like bullshit, but it’s not.
Evan Allen: There were a couple of police officers we’ve heard a lot about, that were always in the Mission Hill area. Did you know–
Wolfie Alexander: Dunn.
Evan Allen: Dunn?
Wolfie Alexander: Dunn.
Adrian Walker: Did you know Billy Dunn?
Veda Bennett: Yeah, I know him from patrolling out in the streets. Yeah, he just didn’t like us. He didn’t like nobody.
Laroy Cox: He was our neighborhood enforcer. He kept us in line.
Andrew Ryan: What do you mean by that?
Laroy Cox: Nine times out of ten, if we’re getting arrested around Mission, he was the one who was doing the arrests. He knew all our names. He knew our family, who we associated with. It’s like he was God’s eye in the sky, you know, but on the ground.
Wolfie Alexander: Good for him. I hope he’s dead now.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Okay, so Billy Dunn was not exactly beloved. In fact, he had faced several claims of misconduct, including an accusation that he and two other officers had raped a teenage girl. But Billy was cleared following an internal investigation and a federal grand jury probe. Back in the 80s, everybody in Mission Hill knew him. The night of the shooting, Billy was off duty. He was down in his basement playing Nintendo with his kids, when his captain called.
Billy Dunn: “Drop what you’re doing and get in here right away. There’s been a murder, at least one murder, maybe two, maybe three. Mission Projects.”
ADRIAN WALKER (host): He was assigned to work with homicide on the case.
Billy Dunn: These cops... I’ve seen them cry because of this. The attitude of the city and the police department was to get the bad guy. Not at all costs. Not anybody will do. These guys had integrity.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): To this day, the police defend their tactics and still deny that the mass strip searches ever happened.
Billy Dunn: They wanted to keep Mission Hill quiet. The city didn’t want any problems racially, or presumptively racially. The police department certainly didn’t, because you get more bees with honey, you know. You act civil up there, some people might talk to you. So the last thing we wanted to do was a D-Day invasion on Mission Hill.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Billy says that the police “rampage” through Mission Hill was a creation of the media.
Billy Dunn: Are you kidding me? People are going to be fucking retarded to believe that. That don’t happen in Russia! They said there was a siege on Mission Hill, cops riding through with horses? If there was horses up there, they were stepping on needles, so they wouldn’t have lasted long. I’ve never seen a horse in Mission Hill in my life. It’s just shit that never happened.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): We wanted to get a full picture of exactly what the police did in Mission Hill in the days and weeks following the Stuart shooting. We reached out to almost all of the cops involved in the investigation. Other than Billy, they all declined to talk. So that leaves us with old police records, TV news footage, newspaper clips, and the memories of Mission Hill residents. When you compare those things with what the police say, well they don’t match up.
[FUNERAL ATTENDEES SING]
Archived Recording (Charles Austin, Reporter): A sun filled morning masked the darkness of this autumn day. Carol Stuart is buried.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Four days after the killing, as police scoured Mission Hill for the suspect, Carol’s friends and family gathered to mourn in a small city on the outskirts of Boston. Her funeral service was held in the same church where she and Chuck were married four years earlier. The mayor, police commissioner, and the governor were all there.
Archived Recording (Priest): For the world and all is dead and dying. Amen, amen.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): The church was packed.
[FUNERAL ATTENDEES SAY THE LORD’S PRAYER]
Archived Recording (Unidentified Funeral Attendee): She who pleased God was loved. She who lived among sinners was transported. Snatched away, for her soul was pleasing to the Lord.
Barbara Williamson: I just remember that… everybody was in tears.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Carol’s friend, Barbara Williamson, had known her for years.
Barbara Williamson: We were still in shock, deeply grieving, totally confused.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): They worked together at an accounting firm where Carol was an attorney.
Barbara Williamson: She was without question, one of the sunniest people I’ve ever known. She just lit up a room when she came in. She did not have a self-conscious bone in her body. She was just so… herself. And herself was hilariously funny. I mean, funny the way Lucille Ball is funny.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Carol was gregarious and so earnest that even as an adult, she still wanted to go to Disney World. And she talked a lot about how much she wanted a baby. She was preparing their home, dreaming of a fairytale life in the suburbs.
Barbara Williamson: She was a pretty romantic person and could romanticize an event like that. But having, I mean, having a child is a life-changing undertaking and feeling something growing inside of you. Something that’s part of you, but isn’t you. There’s a sacredness about it as well.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): When she was murdered, Carol’s pregnancy became part of a headline. But while she was still alive, it had been intimate and beautiful. And the fact that she was pregnant made her death that much harder to comprehend.
Barbara Williamson: I said, “What? Carol Stuart. She’s dead. She’s been shot.” And I, I mean, just saying that, I have goosebumps. I was stunned.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Carol? Dead? It just didn’t make any sense. And for some reason, Barbara thought immediately of Chuck and Carol’s two dogs.
Barbara Williamson: Max and Midnight. Both black dogs, rescue dogs. Carol adored those dogs. And it’s so random, one of the things that I thought about was, “Oh my God, Carol’s going to be worried about who’s going to take care of Max and Midnight.”
Archived Recording (Carl DiMaiti): My sister really believed in the innate goodness of every one of us.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): That day at the funeral, Carol’s brother Carl addressed the mourners.
Archived Recording (Carl DiMaiti): Today we feel a deep sense of loss and outrage. How could this have happened? What kind of society tolerates this kind of random and senseless violence? I have no answers. I do know, however, that Carol would stand totally against any call for vengeance or retaliation.
Archived Recording (Funeral Attendees): I walk in the valley of darkness. I fear no evil for you are with me.
Archived Recording (Unidentified Funeral Attendee): The Lord is my shepherd.
Archived Recording (Priest): The funeral will soon be over. As we lay Carol’s body to rest, our lives will go on… but today is certainly not the end of a family’s nightmare.
Archived Recording (Unidentified Funeral Attendee): For you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage.
Archived Recording (Funeral Attendees): Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil for you are with me.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Chuck was still in the hospital and couldn’t go to the funeral, so he wrote a letter.
Archived Recording (Brian Parsons): Following is a message from Chuck to his wife, Carol. “Goodnight, sweet wife, my love. God has called you to his hands. He says, if for us to truly believe, we must know that his will was done and that there was some right in this meanest of acts. In our souls, we must forgive this sinner. My life will be more empty without you, as will the lives of your family and friends. You have brought joy and kindness to every life you’ve touched. Now you sleep away from me. I will never again know the feeling of your hand in mine. But I will always feel you. I miss you. And I love you. Your husband, Chuck.”
[CHOIR SINGS ALLELUIA]
ADRIAN WALKER (host): This was not the only tragedy Chuck would have to endure while recovering. Days after Carol’s funeral, he was taken by ambulance to his baby’s bedside to say goodbye.
Archived Recording (Reporter): And now their baby boy who was delivered by emergency Cesarean has died. His father is doing okay tonight. He’s still in the hospital and police are still looking for the killer.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Christopher William Stuart died when he was only 17 days old.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Back in Mission Hill, people were laying low. DonJuan remembers how strange the neighborhood looked. Empty.
DonJuan Moses: Aftermath for a lot of people is, like, it’s like a wild, wild west. It was scarce. You don’t really catch any people out there, really, because cops just ran through the projects and just ripped it apart. So people were I mean, everybody scat… they scattered. People just straight scattered all over the place. You don’t see people out there like you would normally would at a certain hour. And before that happened, people would be out there 12, one o’clock in the morning, just roaming, talking, doing what they do. No. That stopped everything. You just see people booking, bee-lining to where they [are] going. You could tell they was walking in fear.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): But people everywhere were afraid. There was still a killer on the loose and the police dragnet continued. Like I said at the start, there is a whole generation of Black men who were shaped by these few weeks in late 1989. Listen to their voices.
Archived Recording (Unidentified Mission Hill Resident): Well after October 23rd, me and a couple of friends was walking down Parker Street. A couple of unmarked police cars pulled up on us, searched us, then pulled me to the side and asked me to take down my pants.
Wolfie Alexander: I felt like my heart dropped out of my chest. I’m like,” What the fuck did I do? I wasn’t doing anything but going to work.”
Archived Recording (Tony Moss): I live in Roxbury and I was walking home. And they just rolled up on me and threw me against the wall and started searching me.
Archived Recording (Unidentified Mission Hill Resident 2): I refused to take down my pants. They was like, “Well, if you want to take down your pants here, we’ll arrest you.” I was like, “Well, put the handcuffs on me. But before you put them on, it’s going to be a fight.”
Rev. Graylan Ellis-Hagler: Driving home one day, I saw a whole bunch of young men with their pants and underwear down around their ankles on Dudley Street. Hands against the wall, cop got his gun out. And they’re searching the kids and they’re laughing. The cops are laughing.
Leslie Harris: These kids hadn’t done anything. They were leaving church! You know, and I remember a number of us coming out, standing there saying, “Don’t worry, young man, we’re watching and we will be there for you.” They didn’t get charged with anything because they hadn’t done anything! But they were stopped and humiliated by the police. Everyone walked around in fear.
Archived Recording (Host): Now, how does all of this make you feel?
Archived Recording (Unidentified Mission Hill Resident 3): Well, it makes me feel uncomfortable.
Archived Recording (Host): What do you mean by uncomfortable?
Archived Recording (Unidentified Mission Hill Resident 3): Uncomfortable that my rights have been violated. That this is a free land to walk on. To me, it doesn’t seem like a free land.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Boston calls itself the cradle of liberty. We imagine ourselves as an example for the rest of the country, a city upon a hill. Our state house has an actual golden dome that shines in the sun. But the Stuart shooting stripped away that gilding and revealed what was underneath.
Howard Bryant: You had heard this legend of Boston as a birthplace of democracy and as the birthplace of abolition. And the statues down in the Common of Sumner and Phillips and all of the great abolitionists and all those statues are real because that’s our history. But then we also have another history as well, and a present, that people will just call this the most racist city in America.
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.