For so long it was their story – and only their story – that got any attention. Charles and Carol Stuart. The media dubbed them “The Camelot Couple,” and they became the picture of domesticity and purity. White folks could see themselves in their car. The Stuarts were pretty, popular, and on the cusp of starting a family. But really, who were Charles and Carol?
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For more about this episode:
– Read Chapter 5 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
Will Zecco: I didn’t know him as Charles, I knew him as Chuck. He was very charming. Very charismatic, very handsome, very nice looking, always had a shirt and tie on. Always very well put together. If you could put a label on it, I would say it’s somewhere between a politician and a Hollywood actor. You know, always had kind of an air about him. Not an– I wouldn’t say an arrogant air, but he carried himself very well.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Will Zecco knew Chuck Stuart kinda intimately. At least in the way a chatty hair stylist in a chic salon has a window into each client’s life. And he’d been following the news closely, ever since his regular client had been shot in such a public, horrifying way.
Will Zecco: I remember the day it was on the news. He’s being released from the hospital and then maybe three or four hours later, the front desk comes out and says to me, “Chuck Stuart just made an appointment with you for a haircut.” I was like, “Oh, okay.” So I told them I said, “Look, when he comes in, I don’t want anybody hovering. Just go be at your station.” And we had this little room, we called it the VIP suite after we did Jackie Onassis’s hair there, we called it the Jackie Onassis suite. So we had this little room. It was like a closet and it had a sink and a mirror and a chair and all the stuff you needed. So when the VIPs came in, that’s where we did the VIP hair, you know. So I said, “We’re going to take him into the Jackie Onassis suite.” I actually got to do Jackie Onassis’ hair twice. I actually got to cut Henry Kissinger’s hair. I met Cher in the elevator…
ADRIAN WALKER (host): For many folks, the salon chair is a bit of a confessional booth. And Will – well, he likes it that way.
Will Zecco: Where else could you get your hair done and your head shrunk at the same time? Because people would tell you stuff and I’d be like, “I don’t want, I don’t want to know that.” You know Ted Kennedy’s first wife, Joan Kennedy, came to me for a little while and then she starts to tell me these things (LAUGHS). I’m thinking, “I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know what’s going on,” you know? So it was a pretty intimate thing and what people tell you amazed me.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Will literally had his hands through the hair of the who’s who of Boston in the late 80s, working from a salon in Back Bay, just off Newbury Street. It’s kinda like the Rodeo Drive or Fifth Avenue of Boston – which means it’s fancy, as far as Boston goes.
Will Zecco: It was where the rich and famous hung out. That was where all the high end stores were. Everybody shopped there. There were probably 250 hair salons between Boylston Street and Arlington Street. If you had money, that’s where you hung out. That’s where you shopped. That’s where you ate.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Now, Will’s a likable guy. He’s got flair and tons of stories. People talk to him. People trust him.
Will Zecco: There was this bar restaurant that we all used to go hang out in if we were going to go have lunch or whatever. We’d meet for cocktails and things.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): It’s where Will spotted Chuck for the first time.
Will Zecco: And when he came in, he kind of had an entourage of people that he knew. So when he came in, it was kind of like a big hubbub. And I don’t know who I was sitting with. And I said, “Oh, this must be somebody rich and famous because they’re making quite a stir.” And the person that I was with said, “Yeah, I think his name is Charles or Chuck and he works at a fur store down the street.”
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Fur coats were a thing in 1989. The bigger, the better. And who bought fur coats? The people who hung out on Newbury Street. They had the lifestyle Chuck longed for. Will understood that about Chuck.
Will Zecco: I had three types of clients. I had the one night stand, I had the good friend, and then I had “I’m invited to the bar mitzvahs and the christenings.” You know, so the first time someone came in, it was always like, “Is this going to be a one-shot deal or is this going to be a long-term?” And it did become a long-term. He came in every four or five weeks for a haircut.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Chuck’s haircut was simple.
Will Zecco: Wasn’t anything special. In my day it was called the boy’s regular, but he’d be a man’s regular, clean cut over the ears, above the collar, square neckline. It kind of fit the politician kind of image that he had.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Chuck was good looking, certainly better than average. At 29, he had a pretty full head of hair that was maybe starting to thin, Hollywood-perfect white teeth, dark bushy eyebrows, and a square chin with a substantial cleft. He had the build of a former college football player. In essence, he looked like he belonged in a Brooks Brothers ad... and he knew it.
Will Zecco: He was very charming. When you spoke to him, he was very easy to talk to. I kind of got the impression that – I don’t know how to describe it, but he wanted to befriend you. You know, being a salesman in that industry, you had to have a certain amount of charisma and charm to win people over so that they would be your client. And I think he carried that through wherever he went because, you know, even though Boston’s a big city, it’s a small town. He’d come in every couple of weeks. And I’d be thinking to myself, there’s nothing to cut here. But, you know, you kind of go through the motions and make them look good and feel good and, you know.
Archived Recording (Reporter): Tonight’s top story, it has happened again. Bullets rang out during an abduction and robbery starting at a hospital ending in Mission Hill. The victims tonight, a pregnant woman and her husband from the suburbs.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Like the rest of Boston, Will was shocked when he heard Chuck’s name on the television news.
Will Zecco: So when I looked up and then it was his picture, I was like, “Expletive, I can’t believe it!” And my wife comes and she goes, “What’s the matter?” I go, “That’s my client.” And she said, “What do you mean?” I said, “That’s my client. I’ve been cutting his hair for two years!” And she said, “No way.” And I said, “Yeah, way!” And I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I couldn’t. And my wife said to me, “What? What’s freaking you out?” I said, “I didn’t even know this guy was married!” I said, “In the two years I’ve been cutting his hair, I never even knew that he was married.”
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Will also was surprised when his receptionist told him Chuck was coming in for an appointment just hours after wrapping a months-long hospital stay.
Will Zecco: And when he walks in… He didn’t look all that bad. If I remember, he had a cream colored shirt on and like a down vest or he had some kind of a vest on or something, jeans, very, very unlike what I had ever seen him dressed as before. And I said, “Come on with me.” I said, “So we’re going to use, we’ll be in this room and it’ll, you know, be a little bit more private for you. And that way it’ll be a little bit more quiet.” And he was very, very subdued compared to, you know, whenever he came in, he always had a smile on and his eyes were bright. And when he came in, he was just very like, down here. So I take him into the room and hang up his jacket or vest, whatever he had on. And I go in there and I close the door and it’s like, what do you say to somebody that has just been through that?
And he’s sitting there and he’s looking in the mirror. He doesn’t react. And then he goes like this, “See these gray hairs over here? Can you cover these up?” I was– I was gobsmacked. I was like, “Sure, I, yeah, I can do something with that.” I said, “I have a couple of things that I can do. What do you want to do?” He said, “I just want to make sure that these grays are covered up.”: And so he’s sitting in the chair and he’s looking at me in the mirror. And I just said, “Chuck, I just. Just let me say this.” I said, “I am so sorry for your loss.” I said, “I can only imagine what it would be like if my wife and daughter… if something happened to them. So I can only imagine, but I don’t know what you’re going through. And I’m just so, so very sorry for your loss.” It was just, he kind of sat there. We didn’t really talk. I, you know, did his hair, colored his hair, cut his hair, you know, cleaned it up, asked him if it was okay, showed him it with a mirror. He said, “No, that looks really good. Thank you very much.” He finished paying with the receptionist and he put his jacket on and then he shook my hand. And when he shook my hand, he palmed me a $100 tip. I was like, “Whoa.” That’s kind of freaky, you know? And then he was gone.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): So now it’s time to tell you about Chuck and Carol. They’re the two people at the center of this story, but we haven’t told you much about them yet. For so long it was their story, and only their story, that got any attention. The focus was always on this white couple from the suburbs. The media loved them.
Archived Recording (Reporter): The all-American couple. That’s how neighbors describe the Stuarts. They lived in a comfortable house with two dogs and a baby on the way.
Archived Recording (Reporter 2): Carol Stuart was a lawyer for a publishing company in Newton and was loved by everyone who knew her.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): The Boston Herald called them the “Camelot Couple,” a direct reference to Jackie O. and JFK, arguably Massachusetts’ most beloved duo.
Archived Recording (Robert George): This was the young, you know, up and coming middle class white couple from the suburbs. It was a real Bostonian story.
Archived Recording (Tom Samaloc): Carol Stuart was the apple of everyone’s eye who met her.
Christine Baratta: Chuck was tall and handsome. He really was striking.
Archived Recording (Marsha Falk): They were truly the Camelot Couple.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Next to many of those “Camelot” headlines was a picture from their wedding day. It’s a portrait of happiness. The couple is beaming, looking right into the lens, looking right into your heart. Carol, whose maiden name was DiMaiti, is all grin, blue eyeshadow and pink lipstick, her head crowned by a white veil. Chuck, he’s prim and proper, black tux, white bowtie, and piercing blue eyes. The media ran with this image – and the “Camelot Couple” title too.
Archived Recording (Reporter): Carol DiMaiti was one of those who left an indelible mark. Described as loving and pure, she grew up in a working class section of Medford, instilled with a sense of honesty and determination that produced an almost fairytale life.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): “Camelot Couple” became shorthand for the charmed life they had built for themselves in the suburbs.
Archived Recording (Reporter): Nearly all the neighbors here know them and describe the couple as compassionate and thoughtful neighbors. But some of those residents now admit they’re scared to go to Boston.
Archived Recording (Tom Samaloc): No, not Carol. She was our angel.
Kim Woodward: Her husband sat next to me and I thought he was so nervous.
Archived Recording (Reporter 2): So many of us can see ourselves in the Stuarts’ car.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): That’s the thing about this story… white folks could see themselves in that car. This was a time when fears about violence and drugs were at an all-time high. Talk of super-predators was all over and white flight was real.
This story tapped into all of that.
I’m Adrian Walker and this is Murder in Boston: The Untold Story of the Charles and Carol Stuart Shooting, Episode 5: The Camelot Couple.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): So far, much of what you’ve heard about Carol and Chuck Stuart revolves around the night Carol was shot dead in her husband’s car in Mission Hill. But before they were victims of that terrible shooting, they were two kids from the suburbs. (SEAGULL SOUNDS) Two kids in love, looking to climb life’s social ladder, working together in a seaside restaurant on Boston’s North Shore.
Christine Baratta: Carol was a legend and she was this tiny dynamo and she just exuded energy and everything that she did. And she was like a force to be reckoned with.
I am Christine Baratta. I was a friend of Carol DiMaiti Stuart. She was DiMaiti when I met her. And I’ll tell you how I met her. So I was 14 years old. One of my aunts lived in Revere down in the Point of Pines, which is very close to the Driftwood restaurant. The Driftwood was like this big Italian-American seafood restaurant in Revere. It was very, very popular. Everybody in Revere, East Boston, Winthrop went.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): It was the late 1970s, and the Driftwood was an institution. It sat on Revere Beach so close to the sand you could throw a clam and hit the waves. The restaurant exuded cool.
Christine Baratta: And it just had a really incredible pulse. On the weekend nights it was literally, like standing room only to get in there. Big waiting list. You had to know the maître d.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): It had a hundred tables, diners everywhere, families rubbing shoulders with politicians and jockeys from the nearby racetrack.
Christine Baratta: It also had like a lot of famous people, like Tony Conigliaro would come in there and Earl Weaver, you know, I’m a big baseball fan. I remember the night he came in with his World Series ring. I almost fell over. It was literally like working in Hollywood at the Driftwood.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Carol started at the Driftwood as a bus girl, and at 18, she was promoted to waitress. Christine was hired for Carol’s old position.
Christine Baratta: And the first thing that anybody ever said to me was, that she was the best. No one was like her. They would never find anybody that could ever replace Carol. And so I had big shoes to fill.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Carol immediately took her replacement under her wing.
Christine Baratta: We worked together. She trained me. And then we were always paired together. We were the only girls there. Carol was the only girl bus person and when I replaced her, I was the only girl bus person. Everybody else was a boy. And I’ll just say this. The girls slaughtered the boys. We (LAUGHS) outworked them, outpaced them. And Carol was one of the best servers there. So when famous people came in, Carol was asked to take care of them.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): And Carol wasn’t just a mentor at work…
Christine Baratta: I did not have a role model or anything and Carol really was that for me. She taught me how to drive. She helped me find my dress and even got me a date for the junior prom. She helped me get into college. She put her hand on my shoulder and she just said, “This is how you do it.”
ADRIAN WALKER (host): There’s a legendary story about the time Carol had a showdown with a large party that left without giving the staff a tip.
Christine Baratta: They literally left nothing. So she picks up the tip thing and she walks out.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): All the Driftwood servers are watching through the big plate glass windows as Carol follows the big party out to their car.
Christine Baratta: I can tell she’s got her back up, but she is feeling all of herself. She’s not letting this one go.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): She’s got the tip tray in her hand…
Christine Baratta: And she just, like, puts it on the guy’s hood. And I could hear her say something and then she just walked away. She comes back into the restaurant. All the servers are like, “Oh, my God!” You know, “Carol told somebody off!” The showdown became an urban legend among the staff.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): But later that night, Carol tells Christine the truth about what really happened in the parking lot with the tip tray.
Christine Baratta: She’s like, Christine, I just, I took it. I slid it over and I just said, “You left your change.”
ADRIAN WALKER (host): It’s far from the tall tale that’s taking hold among the staff. Everyone assumes she let them have it.
Christine Baratta: And I said, “Well, you know, don’t you want to correct people?” And she said, “Absolutely not.” She says, “I want them to think I’m a badass.” (LAUGHS)
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Carol was doing all of this under the watchful eye of her father.
Christine Baratta: Her dad was a bartender upstairs and he loved his daughter obviously very much. He always carried her picture and her report card in his wallet. And he would be upstairs at the bar serving people and he would be like, “You’ve got to go downstairs and you’ve got to eat and you’ve got to have my daughter wait on you.” And you know and he’d show people her report card, which I will say straight A’s all the time. The woman was brilliant. She really was.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): And Carol was a headturner too…
Christine Baratta: She was super attractive and super sweet and fun to be with and guys asked her out all the time. I mean, she’d be waiting on tables, guys would ask her out.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): But she turned them down. She was still with her high school boyfriend. Until, one day, a local guy in his 20s with good hair and piercing blue eyes joined the staff.
Christine Baratta: Chuck was tall and handsome. He really was striking.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Chuck Stuart was from a big family in Revere on Boston’s North Shore. The Stuarts resembled most families in Revere — Irish Catholic, working-class. Chuck’s dad, Charles Sr., sold insurance. His mom, Dorothy, was a homemaker. They lived in a three-bedroom house on a cul-de-sac and went to Mass each Sunday. Chuck was an altar boy.
The family’s house was just a few miles inland from the restaurant where he met Carol. At the Driftwood, Chuck quickly made an impression. Christine heard he used to be on a football scholarship at Brown, before his knee gave out and he came home. Adding to his mystique, Chuck didn’t say much, but he seemed nice, even thoughtful. And he had this quiet, confident swagger.
Christine Baratta: He always seemed very, you know, he was polite but quiet and reserved. He did not talk a lot. You didn’t hear him raucously laughing or anything like that. I always remember him sort of working the line in the kitchen, you know, studiously cooking. He seemed to really love the restaurant business.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Amid the hustle and bustle of the restaurant, somewhere between the Driftwood kitchen and the front of the house, a romance started.
Christine Baratta: And he really pursued her very ardently. There were flowers and gifts and beautiful dates and opening the door for her. And, again, quiet and reserved, but he seemed to adore her.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): It went both ways.
Christine Baratta: She really, really liked him quite a bit. He was kind of a movie star looking, kind of. He’s very handsome, you know, she just really, really liked him.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Carol’s high school boyfriend was a more conventional, safe choice. Even her dad liked him.
Christine Baratta: I think he was the kind of guy that her father was really, you know, had hoped that she would kind of end up with. But, you know, Chuck was more exciting.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): And so, the teenage romance fizzled out. Chuck took center stage, much to her Dad’s chagrin.
Christine Baratta: I always kind of felt like he didn’t like Chuck too much.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): No matter, Carol and Chuck became an item. They continued to date and on Christmas Eve 1983, Chuck proposed. She said yes.
They got married in October 1985 in the same church where Carol’s parents were married. The reception was held at a big banquet hall. It was a huge Italian wedding with more food than anyone can fathom and tons of dancing. Toward the end of the night, the couple boogied to one of their favorite songs, Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark.”
ADRIAN WALKER (host): By this point, the new Mr. and Mrs. Stuart had the Driftwood restaurant days in their rear view. Carol graduated from law school and had started a new job at an accounting firm. And Chuck? He was in the fancy furs business, on his way to becoming general manager of a high-end store on Newbury Street called Kakas Furs. It was a far cry from the bare-knuckled, working-class world of Revere. Chuck spent his days in a tony showroom, filled with antiques and lush Oriental rugs.
Gayle Vincent: It’s a lot of glass, a lot of brass, a lot of wood... And it’s just very luxurious when you walk in, because you’re looking at all these gorgeous fur coats on these mannequins.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Chuck Stuart was one of the first people Gayle Vincent met when she came to work at Kakas. Gayle worked upstairs, away from the showroom: sewing, fixing, stretching fur coats into shape.
Gayle Vincent: Oh, I loved it. It was amazing. The fur was immaculate, beautiful. They’re really works of art.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Chuck was her boss.
Gayle Vincent: He was very nice. He was kind, polite. He was the general manager of the store.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): But, soon after she started working, Chuck started creeping her out. He would always find a way to be in the elevator with her. He made small talk and paid her neverending compliments.
Gayle Vincent: It was too much and too often and the tone of the voice or the way he looked me up and down or kept looking. And then it seemed like he wasn’t just looking. He was leering and it just felt inappropriate. He was getting in the elevator with me too much. It was like he was hurrying to get in the elevator.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Gayle was married and she noticed Chuck wore a wedding ring too. But his behavior didn’t stop... until Gayle’s husband came by work one day to pick her up.
Gayle Vincent: I had mentioned him, you know, my husband’s picking me up. Well, when he said goodbye to me and opened the door and saw that my husband was Black, I just saw a little bit of, like, weirdness right then, but I didn’t know what it was. But when I got in the car and turned around, looked at him as he was looking at me, I saw something different. It didn’t really register with me too much right then... But when I came back to work, wow. What a difference. He looked at me like he hated me or like I was the most disgusting thing on the planet.
It was like night and day with him. Like, I was happy because then he left me alone. It was no more riding in the elevator, no more flirting, no more, you know, small talk, no more of all the stuff I had been enduring with him for all that time. It ceased immediately.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): None of this behavior dampened Chuck’s fortunes at Kakas.The owners loved him and he was the golden boy. Carol was also excelling at her new role as a tax attorney at her accounting firm.
Barbara Williamson: We worked ridiculous hours. It was not unusual to work 70 hours a week.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Barbara Williamson was Carol’s colleague at Arthur Young. And they spent many late nights together pouring over tax files and legal briefs.
Barbara Williamson: And her dad would bring us pizza at nine o’clock at night and say, “You work too many hours! You work too long!” And he’d come in with all these boxes of pizza. So it was pretty easy to see her generosity of spirit. I never saw her turn up her nose at any human being, no matter who they were.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Barbara remembers a company party at the Cheers bar – you know, that Boston spot where everyone supposedly knows your name.
Barbara Williamson: Carol and two other women in the tax department did The Supremes’ “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” It wasn’t exactly karaoke because there were no microphones, but the music was playing and they were doing all this, you know, “ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low enough,” you know? And it was just and they were having a blast and everybody, everybody there was just completely captivated, laughing hysterically because, again, she was just so unselfconscious.
There was no snobbishness to Carol. She always brought her own lunch. And she’d eat in the lunch room with the secretaries and the administrative staff. And she was adored by them as much as she was adored by the partners, the managers and the regular staff.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): And Carol was open. She talked about her life as a newlywed, riding the highs and occasional lows of married life.
Barbara Williamson: In their first year of marriage, she’d come into the office and she’d say, “Ugh, you know, Chuck!” She’d tell a story about how he’d done something that just drove her crazy or she just couldn’t understand. And then, not 20 minutes later, a large vase of 12 or 24 roses would come down the hall to be delivered to Carol as an apology for whatever the spat was. So it looked like a fairytale romance. I mean, he took her to New York for the weekends, you know, for restaurants and plays. And, he bought her gorgeous jewelry. It looked pretty perfect from the outside.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Barbara remembers Carol being over the moon when in 1989 she learned that she was pregnant.
Barbara Williamson: She was really excited about the fact that she and Chuck together were creating this new human being. And she wondered who that human being was going to be. And she just looked forward to having the joys of motherhood.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): But first Carol endured months of brutal morning sickness.
Barbara Williamson: When she was driving to work, she’d have to pull over and throw up and she hated it and she hated feeling sick. And she started talking about staying home after the baby was born.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): In prepping for this huge transition, Carol and Chuck signed up for birthing classes at one of the region’s most prestigious hospitals. They started collecting pillows and how-to books, and prepared a baby room in their suburban Reading home.
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…
ADRIAN WALKER (host): And then… that terrible night…
Archived Recording (Reporter): They say the Stuarts were excited as they approached the birth of their first child, a dream that disappeared last night.
Archived Recording (Reporter 2): The assailant was said to be Black and the victims were white.
Archived Recording (Reporter 3): An angry Mayor Flynn is asking that every single available police detective in the city work on the case.
Archived Recording (Reporter 4): Dozens of police officers, Boston police detective officers from the state police, violent fugitive arrest squad, they are all here and all looking for the killer of Carol Stuart.
Archived Recording (Reporter 5): And now their baby boy who was delivered by emergency Cesarean has died.
Archived Recording (Reporter 6): Police focused on one suspect, then another and finally settled on William Bennett, a man with a history of violence.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): After Willie’s arrest, things quieted a bit. The police assault on Mission Hill eased.
December in Boston that year was the coldest on record in a hundred years. The Bruins were doing great and on their way to the Stanley Cup finals. And the Celtics still had Larry Bird, whose superpowers were starting to fade.
The Stuart story still dominated the newscasts and the front pages of the papers, but the city prepared for a new decade and a big New Year’s celebration. It had been two months since Carol and her baby Christopher died.
Meanwhile, Willie Bennett languished in jail on charges that had nothing to do with the shooting. Prosecutors continued to pore over the Stuart case with Willie as the main suspect. But still, no murder charges had been filed.
Around Christmas, Chuck booked another appointment with Will Zecco at the salon.
Will Zecco: He called up again and said, “I want to come in. I have to go to the police station. I think the press is going to be there. Can you cover this up?”
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Chuck wanted Will to cover up his gray again. It was starting to show.
Will Zecco: And I’m thinking to myself, “Dude, seriously, you’re worried about the press and what you look like? For God’s sake!” At that point, I was kind of pissed, you know? And so I said, “Yeah, sure, come on in.” And so he came in and same routine. I put him in the room. This time, I put him in the room after I put the color on. I closed it. I left it. I closed the door. I let him sit in there by himself because I just like, I’m not going to make small talk with this guy because obviously, you know, he’s either in shock or he’s unmoved by this.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Even today, the image of Chuck’s face in the salon mirror during that last appointment – it sticks with Will.
Will Zecco: I can see it in my mind’s eye. If you look into the eyes of a shark, they’re dead. And that’s exactly, that’s exactly what it was. There was no feeling. There was no emotion. There was nothing, you know? And that’s when I really was like, “Wow, dude, you’re a piece of work.”
ADRIAN WALKER (host): With his newly colored and coiffed hair, Chuck headed to the police station. Detectives had gathered up suspects and wanted Chuck to point out the shooter.
Archived Recording (Reporter): The lineup was held this afternoon on the second floor of police headquarters. Under extreme secrecy, William Bennett was whisked in and out through a side door.
Archived Recording (Reporter): Bennett was inserted in the number three position of the lineup with seven other Black men and Charles Stuart viewed them through a one way glass.
Archived Recording (Lt. Det. Edward McNelley): Testing 1, 2, 3, 4.
Archived Recording (Detective Miller Thomas): Testing 1, 2, 3, 4.
Archived Recording (Lt. Det. Edward McNelley): We are currently on the first floor of police headquarters. My name is Lt. Det. Edward McNelley, chief of the homicide unit of the Boston Police Department. Present in the room is Detective Miller Thomas, a detective assigned to the homicide unit of the Boston Police Department and Mr. Charles Stuart.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): This tape was recorded moments after Chuck viewed the police lineup of eight Black men. It’s pretty scratchy, and has never been heard widely. Our team helped unearth it.
Archived Recording (Chuck Stuart): When I first entered the room, I was able to see seven of the eight individuals. I was first– my attention was first called to individual number three. At that time, already being somewhat nervous, I was sort of taken over by even more nervousness of recognizing number three as the individual who entered my car on October 23rd.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Chuck says he was nervous, and that he got even more nervous when he saw the third person in the lineup... Willie Bennett.
Archived Recording (Chuck Stuart): When number three stepped forward, especially when he turned to the left, and viewing the right side of his face, it became clear to me that this was the individual that was in my vehicle that evening.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Chuck says he recognized Willie’s jawline… even the shape of his ear. And it terrified him.
Archived Recording (Chuck Stuart): After a moment of trying to compose myself a little bit, I took advantage of concentrating on individual number three. It was then that I tried to remember most the facial features that had stuck in my mind. And it was at that point, what can be said, 99 percent sure that this was the individual that was in my car that evening.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Did you hear that? Chuck’s 99 percent sure Willie’s the shooter.
Archived Recording (Chuck Stuart): Number three stood out immediately. The nervousness that I had, I had a shaking in my legs. I didn’t think I could even stand still. My heartbeat was rapid and I tried to concentrate and give each individual the proper attention without staring back at number three, but my viewing of individual number three was definitely one that precipitated this nervous reaction.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): And that was that.
Archived Recording (Reporter): Charles Stuart, looking thinner since the shooting, left quickly and quietly after the line up through a side door. Neither he nor his attorney spoke to reporters.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): But there are conflicting media reports about the state of the case.
Archived Recording (Reporter): Both Boston newspapers, quoting sources, report Stuart’s identification of Bennett as absolutely solid. Our sources say at best, it was a lukewarm identification.
Archived Recording (Reporter): It has been two months now since shots rang out on Mission Hill that night and no one has been arrested. And the only thing the police and prosecutors are saying now is, “No comment.”
ADRIAN WALKER (host): So the city is left wondering what’s going to happen next… but there are no answers in the coming days. For a moment, the world pauses to ring in the new year.
Archived Recording (Anchor): 1989, going out with a song, a shimmy and a splash…
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Thousands flock downtown to usher in the new decade.
Archived Recording (Reporter): You know, for a while, weather threatened to be the main story of these first night celebrations but the rain has held off tonight. In fact, it’s gotten, if anything, even warmer this evening. And that combination has brought out all kinds of people.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): By any measure, it was a rollercoaster year. The terrible night in Mission Hill, the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Archived Recording (Host): … suppose this is the year of the Alaska oil spill, the San Francisco earthquake, worldwide freedom movement all over the world!
ADRIAN WALKER (host): Still, hope springs eternal.
Archived Recording (Host): And in just 15 seconds from now, it’ll be 1990. Here we go! The leap second will be accounted for in five, four, three, two, one. Happy New Year! (CROWD CHEERS) He made it! He’s on top of the world! There’s a guy without a shirt on if you can believe that.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): But when the calendar turns, Boston is about to get a real shock.
On the morning of January 4th, a businessman drives across the Tobin Bridge. The Tobin’s a hulking mass of steel that looms over the Mystic River and connects Boston to the suburbs of Chelsea and Revere.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): That morning, fog and drizzle blanket the green bridge. Still, the businessman sees something amiss…
Archived Recording (Josiah Spaulding): On this particular morning, I was coming in very early and early, being around 6:30 to 7 o’clock, and I went over the bridge.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): There’s a car pulled over to the side, with the door left open.
Archived Recording (Josiah Spaulding): I noticed a man out of the car. He went around the front of his car.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): It’s a bit dark. The sun is just starting to come up. But he can see the man is tall and white. And then this man moves toward the railing.
Archived Recording (Josiah Spaulding): And then climbed, stood on the side of the bridge.
ADRIAN WALKER (host): The businessman keeps driving. The man in his rear view mirror steps up to the edge…
David Ropeik: This was seminal in the modern history of Boston.
Barbara Williamson: I had to rewrite the story in my head.
Archived Recording (Carl DiMaiti): Shocked. It doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling.
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.