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Murder in Boston Podcast: Guide to episode 9

We knew when we started out on this story, we were digging into something that would cause people pain. And we’ve tried to balance our jobs as fact-finders and journalists, with being humane and thoughtful. Two innocent people lost their lives. The suspect’s family had their world upended too. And countless others will never be the same. So, what now? How does this story end? Has anything changed? And is it too late for justice? Find out in the final episode.

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For more about this episode:

– Read Chapter 8 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

Transcript

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

Evan Allen: We’ve talked to people who said, you know, “Why are you bringing this back up again? This is in the past.” But what would you say if somebody said, “Look, this is ancient history. This was 33 years ago.”

Veda Bennett: Man, look, this is, this is history here. This is history. I mean, a Black man got blamed for something he didn’t do. That’s eating me up. It hurts, it hurts.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Veda Bennett is Willie Bennett’s sister.

Veda Bennett: For people to say, It’s over with, it’s over with? It’s never gonna be over with for Veda Bennett. It’s never going to be over! It’s never going to be over. They can say that because it didn’t happen to them. This is where it started, so I’m never going to forget. Happened right across the street. From where I’m at now. I’m never going to get no rest.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): In the summer of 2022, my colleague Evan Allen and I knocked on Veda’s door. At first, she only cracked it open, and stood there looking at us skeptically through the screen. But then she recognized me from TV where I occasionally do my newspaper columnist thing.

Veda Bennett: I say that guy looks familiar and there he is knocking on my door. (LAUGHS) He’s knocking on my door. I looked out there yesterday (INDISCERNIBLE) I just saw that man on TV! I see you.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): So she opened the door and let us in. We all sat around a table in her kitchen, surrounded by all these photographs of her family.

Veda Bennett: That’s my mom. That’s my brother Bruce and my brother Willie together. That was a good day. I look at my brother, I look at my mom. I wish they were still here.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Veda is lovely. She’s in her 60s, has graying hair, and a restless sadness about her. But she’s also got this droll sense of humor that can take you by surprise.

Veda Bennett: I’ve got braids in my hair. (LAUGHS) I got a blue shirt with some shorts and my slippers on. That’s the way the Stuart case left me, looking bummy. (LAUGHS)

ADRIAN WALKER (host): She lives in Mission Hill. Back in ‘89, Veda was living in a different apartment, not far from here, with her mom and brother Willie.

Veda Bennett: My brother didn’t do that. Why pick on us?

ADRIAN WALKER (host): She was there the night the cops stormed into her family’s apartment.

Archived Recording (Reporter): The Bennett apartment is in disarray after Boston detectives searched their home early Saturday morning for 39-year-old William Bennett.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): About 2:30 in the morning, they knocked down the door, tore the place apart, and dragged 15-year-old Joey Bennett out in his boxers. Veda’s tried to forget it, but her body remembers -- all these years later.

Veda Bennett: I’m scared to go to sleep. Don’t know what’s gonna go on. So I’ll be up at 2, same time, 2:30 a.m., I be up at 2. I don’t go to sleep until daylight. Take a snooze, wake back up. I sleep for like two or three hours. I’m back up. That’s no sleep at all. If I look all tired, I don’t care.

Evan Allen: What do you dream about?

Veda Bennett: I dream about the Stuart case. I mean, that’s this thing, saying, did it sound like my door opened? You know, it’s just very scary. If I go to sleep, I might hear a knock again.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Veda says the cops pushed her down the stairs during the raid. She swears that tumble is somehow connected to a tumor in her brain.

Veda Bennett: It’s never going away, it’s never going out of my head, so. It’s right next to the tumor. It’s right next to the tumor.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Veda’s mother was the matriarch of the sprawling Bennett family. If the Bennetts were holding it together at all – it was because of Pauline. And after the Stuart case, after Willie was arrested, Pauline just never recovered.

Veda Bennett: She just kept talking about the Stuart case, Stuart case, Stuart case, though it happened in 1989.

Archived Recording (Pauline Bennett): What I went through was just too much…

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Here’s Pauline, talking to a reporter, in early 1990:

Archived Recording (Pauline Bennett): What can I say?

Archived Recording (Reporter): Are you bitter?

Archived Recording (Pauline Bennett): Yes I’m bitter. With what they did to my house and everything.

Archived Recording (Reporter 2): What did they do to your house?

Archived Recording (Pauline Bennett): They tore it up.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): This case haunted Pauline until her death in 1996.

Veda Bennett: My mother had a massive heart attack. The last thing she said to me: “The Stuart case, the Stuart case.” The next thing I know, she’s gone. She just kept talking about it, talking about it. She said, “That man just put my son, put us through all this hell.” She just couldn’t take it. Her heart was just — every day was something with her heart, just trembling. And you never got an apology? Never got compensated? Never have a conversation with nobody?

Evan Allen: Is there anything the city could do? Like what would, what would make you feel whole?

Veda Bennett: It’s too late for that. I’m just going to do me and just keep on suffering like I’m suffering. Because we’re not going to gain nothing, we’re not going to win nothing.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): We spoke with Veda in the summer of 2022 for over an hour and a half.

Adrian Walker: Does it make you feel better to talk about it a little?

Veda Bennett: Yeah, it does. It really does.

Adrian Walker: Tell me why.

Veda Bennett: Just somebody listening to me, you know? Somebody’s listening. Finally, somebody’s listening.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): When Evan and I left Veda’s home, we made plans to meet up with her and her sister again the following day. Veda said a whole bunch of her family would want to talk to me and the Globe team.

Veda Bennett: I got other family, I got my niece! She got a lot to say.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): But Veda’s nephew, Joey “Toot” Bennett wasn’t having this. And he let us know.

Joey Bennett: (BEEP) This is Joe Bennett, man. Why don’t you have a conversation with me next time before you try to have a conversation with my family. Unless y’all paying my family for this story, this is an exclusive! Y’all not getting this story! So to go behind my back and try to talk to my family is wrong, so don’t do that!

ADRIAN WALKER (host): I get it.

We knew when we started out on this story, we were digging into something that would cause people pain. And we’ve tried to balance our jobs as fact-finders and journalists, with being humane and thoughtful.

Two innocent people – Carol and her infant son Christopher Stuart – lost their lives. The Bennetts’ lives were totally upended too. The cops ransacked their homes. The media turned them into a spectacle. And then, when it was all over – the world just dropped them and moved on.

Even though this story has been told over and over again, the Bennetts haven’t really been part of that narrative.

Now Willie is 73. He lives in public housing for the elderly and disabled, and he’s made it clear that he’s done talking about the Stuart case. So you won’t hear from him in this podcast.

So… then… what now?

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.

Angela Brittle: I said, “They tore up Mission Hill! They said it was a Black man.” She said, “Girl, wake up.”

Ron Bell: It never went away for me. It was always a part of our narrative, for those of us from Mission Hill, oh, we still talking about it. I’m still talking about it to you today, and I feel like it was yesterday.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): How does this story end? And is it too late for justice?

In this episode, we’re going to examine exactly that. What does closure look like for the Bennetts, for the police, for Mission Hill, and for the city?

I’m Adrian Walker and this is the final episode of Murder in Boston: The Untold Story of the Charles and Carol Stuart Shooting, Episode 9: Is This How It Ends?

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Retired Boston cop Billy Dunn doesn’t fret over Willie Bennett’s fate. He doesn’t regret anything.

Billy Dunn: I think everything was done right. My biggest regret out of the whole Stuart case — other than a woman and a baby get killed, I don’t care about Chuck Stuart, he can jump twice for all I care — is the fact that they wouldn’t let us finish.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Billy says the police were told to stand down once Chuck jumped – so the investigation was left unresolved.

Thirty-four years later, we tried to resolve it. You’ve heard everything we’ve dug up. And despite all this, Billy is unmoved.

He still thinks Willie was involved in the shooting. Dunn believes Willie and Chuck were somehow in cahoots.

Billy Dunn: I think Willie had something to do with it. I think they knew each other. I could be wrong. Willie could be the innocent guy in the world. My mind will never know. And the people will never know who pulled the trigger. But you decide, you get the information. You tell me who you think or who you would have thought did it. Let the people that are listening to this, give them all the facts and let them decide.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): We took Billy up on that challenge. So, I guess, you decide.

To be fair, Billy’s not alone in his beliefs on this. Peter O’Malley, the lead detective on the case… For decades, he kept saying Willie was the shooter. O’Malley is dead, but here he is in a 2008 documentary:

Archived Recording (Detective Peter O’Malley): I don’t think he could have shot himself, so I don’t think he would have shot his wife. I think he got himself in a coke habit with Willie and owed him some money. I think Willie went off on him.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): There’s one phrase you haven’t heard much of in this podcast: the term “wrongful conviction.” Nobody was charged in the murders of Carol and Christopher Stuart. But wrongful conviction is precisely where Willie Bennett’s case was headed – at least until Matthew Stuart had his come-to-Jesus moment.

So – why is it important that a few retired cops and attorneys – believe these conspiracy theories about a 34-year-old murder case? Well, because in 1989, they weren’t retirees. They were the folks involved in this investigation, and they had the power to influence it.

Remember, the stakes were high. The DA himself said the death penalty should be reconstituted in this case. So it’s possible that today, those people are trying to save face.

After all, it wasn’t police work that saved Willie – it was luck. But don’t expect the Boston Police Department to apologize. Many cops see no need.

Archived Recording (Frank McGee, Chief Counsel of the Boston Police Department’s Patrolmen’s Association): Stuart said a Black man shot him, okay? Now I ask you, where were they supposed to go? To the Myopia Hunt Club, Prides Crossing, Beverly Farms? They did what any normal, routine police investigator would do – sweep the area.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Billy Dunn is essentially the only Boston Police representative who would sit down with us. He doesn’t pay much mind to the fact that police almost put away an innocent man. He doesn’t lay awake at night thinking about the Bennetts.

Billy Dunn: They don’t mean nothing to me. I mean, I don’t wish them… dead. You know, I mean, I don’t care about Willie. Even Joey, I don’t wish them dead. They’re human beings, they’re people. Do I wish them some heartache and heartburn for stuff that they might do or might gonna do? Yeah, yeah, yeah. I hope they get heartburn, but I really don’t wish any ill on them, you know?

ADRIAN WALKER (host): HBO filmmakers played the tape of Billy’s interview for Joey Bennett to hear.

Billy Dunn: It eats at me because the assumption the cops did the wrong thing, that bothers me. “Oh, you’re focusing on this poor Black guy and it was a lie all this time.” Yes, other than it wasn’t a lie all this time in my mind. We never got the chance to finish the investigation. We never got the chance to say it wasn’t Willie Bennett.

Joey Bennett: You’re motherfucking right you never got the chance because Charles cracked! His brother cracked! And if he didn’t crack, you all would have had the chance to hang my fucking uncle. Facts. Chuck Stuart would have went all the way through if his brother Matthew didn’t fold. My uncle would have died in prison!

ADRIAN WALKER (host): The shame that came from his role in this whole thing? Well, Joey still hasn’t gotten past it.

Joey Bennett: It always ate at me. Because every time I got arrested, the newspapers started with “the nephew of Willie Bennett,” “the nephew of Willie Bennett of the Charles Stuart case,” or “the nephew who implicated Willie Bennett in the Charles Stuart story.” That shit ate at me, since I was a kid. I’m 49. That shit ate at me, to the point where I always said that when it’s our turn, they’re going to know who did this because I didn’t start this shit. I didn’t inflict this on my family.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): It’s not like everything changed for the Bennetts when Chuck jumped. Willie didn’t walk free. He went to prison for 12 years for robbing a video store in a nearby town. Willie has always said he didn’t rob the store – and some people think he’s telling the truth… just like he told the truth about not shooting Carol Stuart.

In the years since he got out of prison, Willie has said little publicly about his experience. He hates the media almost as much as he hates the cops. After everything we told you about the media’s failures – well, I can understand that.

Still, I tried to get him to talk.

And once, I was successful. It was 2011, just after Matthew Stuart died. I went to the Bennett family’s apartment in Mission Hill and his sister put Willie on the phone with me. I thought I was gonna get an interview – but all he said was, “I really don’t care. It hurts to talk about it. What good does it do me?”:

One of the only clips we have of Willie’s actual voice is from a rare TV interview in 2017.

Archived Recording (Willie Bennett): I’ve been through a whole lot. I’ve been in prison half my life. I’m not doing no more silly shit that I used to do. I can’t forget it. Regardless of, like, how much time I did, I just, I can’t forget it.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): He told the reporter that he was done talking about Chuck Stuart:

Willie Bennett: I ain’t got nothing to say about that man. He did what he did, and that’s it. Now he’s gone. I’ll see him in hell if there’s a hell.

Joey Bennett: My uncle wasn’t a monster. My uncle was innocent. He was innocent from when they arrested him. He was innocent from when they locked him up. He was innocent from when he went to jail. He was innocent.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Joey is just thankful that his uncle got some free years out of prison.

Joey Bennett: He’s not going to die in a prison cell. So that’s what he wanted.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Willie’s legacy is all tangled up with the Stuart case. And every generation of Bennetts since Willie has had to grapple with that.

Joey Bennett: And that trickled down to me! I had to be tough! I had to carry this name properly. There was no gangs from Mission in the ‘80s. We started a gang in the ‘90s. That’s when Mission Hill had a gang. That’s when I became Toot from Mission Hill, but I became the next Willie.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): When the Stuart shooting happened, 15 year-old Joey was already selling crack and stealing cars. He’d even recovered from a gunshot wound. But after the Stuart case, any hope he had of turning it around vanished.

Joey Bennett: It made me bitter. It made me angry. It made me want to inflict harm on people. It made me a different kid.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Joey’s gone on to spend most of his adult life in prison. And in 1998, he went away for murder, one that he has always claimed he didn’t commit. Sound familiar?

So… get this. In 2019, after Joey had served 22 years, a judge threw out his conviction and ordered a new trial. I wrote a column about Joey’s case. In it, I said that holding a new trial would be a travesty. The prosecution always had a weak case – it was based on one eyewitness who later recanted. I argued then, and believe now, that Joey should be home for good. But I don’t make the rules. And Joey may be on borrowed time. The state has scheduled a new trial for May of 2024.

Joey Bennett: The police hate the Bennetts, and they was quick to lock our asses up. But in the end, we stood strong, and we out here. Me and my uncle.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): But this story goes beyond Willie and Joey. This case has traumatized every family member.

Willie’s niece, Sharita Bennett, was seven years old and living with her grandma when the cops came looking for Willie.

Sharita Bennett: It took a long time to recover from that, from that night.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Sharita remembers looking out the window when the cops marched down the hill with their shields.

Sharita Bennett: Sometimes I just wish I don’t remember that night, but I remember that night from the back of my head. I think that’s probably the only thing I remember from being six or seven. I don’t remember anything else but that.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): It’s shaped her life. Sharita has tried to push past negative impressions of the Bennett name.

Sharita Bennett: You always have to prove you’re not what they think you are. They’re not putting in the same label that they putting on everyone else. So, it’s every day it just feels like you just got to go outside to prove a point, to prove you’re not this bad person. You’re not out here doing what they think everyone else is doing. And because I’m a Bennett, I’m not a bad person or I’m not out here doing crazy things. And so every day is just feeling like you have to prove to them who you are. What we are.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): So this brings us back to the question that Joey raised in that voicemail message.

Joey Bennett: I told y’all. Unless y’all paying my family for this story, this is an exclusive. Y’all not getting this story! And I’mma call Jason and tell him the same thing.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): What is the Bennetts’ story worth? To them, to us, to you?

We took on this project because we felt like it had never been properly told. We thought that Black voices - not just the Bennetts, but the people of Mission Hill – had been left out. This case was an important part of Boston’s history, then and now, and it’s been left incomplete.

How could we make this podcast without the Bennetts? Of course we knocked on Veda’s door that day. And Veda was on board with our mission. She was angry that her story had never been heard, and she wanted us to help her tell it. She wanted to be seen and understood. She didn’t ask for money, and we didn’t offer because that’s a line we can’t cross.

We don’t pay sources because exchanging money creates a conflict of interest. We don’t want to incentivize people in any way that might affect the story they tell. We want the truth, or the closest version possible of someone’s truth. These are common journalistic standards. The practices can be different in the film world.

Murder in Boston is a co-production with HBO and filmmaker Jason Hehir, who wanted to hear the Bennetts’ story too. And Joey said no to appearing on camera – a hard no, on behalf of the whole family. Veda and everybody else stopped answering our calls, because Joey said so.

Joey Bennett: Protect the family. Protect the family. Protect the family. Protect the family. Protect the family.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Sharing their story with reporters is an act of faith. How could we possibly expect Joey to have that? Well, he wasn’t convinced by my direct appeals that there was value in letting the world hear his side of things. He saw value elsewhere, thought his story was worth money.

The Bennetts tried for years to force the city to compensate them for what they went through. They filed suit in federal and state court. In the end, the city settled the case, without admitting blame, and Willie’s mother Pauline got a check for $12,500 – an amount the family considered an insult. She bought some new clothes from a discount catalog, and died just a few months later. They said the payout didn’t even cover her funeral.

In Joey’s mind, the world still owes them. Who am I to argue?

Joey Bennett: You know, some people have their theories I’m not the best person, but, you know, here it is. I’m trying to do something different to change the narrative, starting with this documentary. This story has to be told from our family because it’s our time! It’s time for the world to hear what really happened.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): In this case Jason Hehir’s production company, Little Room Productions, reached a licensing agreement with Joey.

HBO says it is part of a standard archive licensing agreement for the use of family photos and audio materials and that the arrangement is in line with industry practices. That agreement includes a confidentiality clause.

This is a world my Globe colleagues and I don’t inhabit. We can talk about the ideals of truth and justice but our sources can’t use that to pay the rent. All told, this is an ethical dilemma that sits at the very heart of journalism today.

I don’t have all the answers. In this podcast, we used audio of Jason’s interview with Joey. It’s a great interview – it’s good tape. All we can do is be transparent.

Evan Allen: This is Station near Parker. I think this would have been facing that way?

Adrian Walker: I just remember that it was really pretty desolate. There were hardly any lights too.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): In the summer of 2022, the Globe team and I went back to where Carol DiMaiti Stuart was murdered. Like everything else in Mission Hill, it looks totally different now. Back then, it was a dead-end corner with a half-demolished bar. On this day, construction workers were buzzing around, building condos.

Unidentified: (CONSTRUCTION SOUNDS) You can hop in, whatever.

Evan Allen: We can also go up the street a little bit and ask some people. Excuse me, guys, sorry to bother you, I’m just curious…

ADRIAN WALKER (host): My colleague Evan flagged one of them down and told him what we were up to.

Evan Allen: So it’s a very famous case from 1989, but the murder probably happened, like, right here. And we were just curious if you, just what you know about it. I’m curious what you know about it.

Rashard Young: I know that it was, like, it wasn’t. (SIGHS) How can I say? I was told that it wasn’t. It’s not what we think it was.

Evan Allen: Yeah. Yeah, it was actually a terrible racial hoax. It was a–

Rashard Young: Yeah. The husband said that some Black guy did it, and it wasn’t true. Like, I don’t know if he did it or what.

Lorenzo Johnson: So, wait, the wife got killed?

Rashard Young: Yeah the wife got killed in a car. It was in the car. Correct?

Evan Allen: Correct.

Rashard Young: It was in the car and they said that Mission had something to do with it. Mission Hill. This was years ago, bro. This was years. I think I was born, like, two years after that.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Rashard Young said his older brother told him about the whole sordid affair.

Rashard Young: And he was like, “Get used to it, you know?” He was like, “I remember one time this Black dude got arrested because a white guy lied and said dadada.” And I was like, “Where that happened at?” He’s like, “Mission Hill.” I was like, “Dang, that’s crazy.”

Evan Allen: That’s scary. I mean, you’re a little kid.

Rashard Young: Nah that didn’t scare me. It was just like dang, that’s terrible how a white man, a white man can lie on a Black guy like, you know, still to this day could still happen to us. It was just like, wow, like, we can be lied on like that so quick. That’s what really scared me. You know, I’ve been lied on too but you know so I definitely know what it’s like just because of my complexion and my, just who I am.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Rashard’s dad is Black. His mom is white. And he says he’s always felt torn between the two. But the outside world isn’t confused at all. His Blackness is what people see. He says it’s also what police see.

Rashard Young: Like real talk, I get anxiety around the police because they could do whatever they want. It’s their word against ours. When they got that badge on, it’s their world. You living in their world for however many minutes you there in they presence, it’s their world. It’s no longer your world. You’re not in a free world no more when the police are around.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Here we are, so many years later, in the same spot in the same neighborhood, hearing the same fears of young Black men.

It makes me wonder… Why, after all the soul searching in the aftermath of the Stuart case, has so little changed? There were lots of recommendations about how to fix problems with police, but many of them never came to fruition. Perhaps because genuine accountability remains elusive. All of the investigations and panels and commissions and reports said the Boston police messed up.

Archived Recording (James Shannon, Massachusetts Attorney General): The most disturbing findings are those of public strip searches. There is no excuse for forcing young men to lower their trousers or for a police officer to search inside their underwear on public streets and hallways. That practice must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Even though these reports described police conduct that certainly sounded illegal, no one was ever criminally charged.

A lot of folks didn’t understand this - myself included. So I sat down with two really important people — to this case and to Boston’s political and law enforcement circles. When this all went down, Wayne Budd was the U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts. Ralph Martin was his top deputy.

Once the dust settled, they launched a federal investigation of the police department’s conduct in the case. Here’s Wayne:

Wayne Budd: We heard from a number of people, community leaders and the like, and I decided that we need to investigate this. And I asked Ralph to take the lead in the investigation.

Adrian Walker: I want to talk to you about the report you issued. Your report laid out many aspects of police misconduct that included coercing and intimidating witnesses, attempting to plant controlled substances in the home of one witness, using intimidating language in the interviews with other witnesses, many of whom I note, were teenagers or young adults. Isn’t all of that illegal?

Wayne Budd: Could very well be. Could very well be.

Adrian Walker: So why wasn’t—

Ralph Martin: You have, you have to.

Wayne Budd: Go ahead.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Ralph Martin.

Ralph Martin: So…

Adrian Walker: You know where I’m going with this.

Ralph Martin: Yeah, but, but, let me, let me, let me just — Let me just try and lay out the complications as well as the frustrations. When you go through all of the statements that we collected from the various witnesses about what the Boston police did, threatened, harassed…

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Ralph’s explanation of why the feds couldn’t bring charges is full of technicalities.

Ralph Martin: We would have had to prove that the Boston police believed that someone other than Willie Bennett did the shooting.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): But Ralph and Wayne found that the cops truly believed Willie did it. So, basically, Boston cops weren’t great detectives, but…

Ralph Martin: In order to prove one element of the conspiracy, we would have had to prove that they knew that was false.

Adrian Walker: You couldn’t prove the conspiracy?

Ralph Martin: Yeah, we could not.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Ralph and Wayne also struggled to prove that the behavior of the cops, while horrible, was racially motivated.

Ralph Martin: We did come up with evidence to show that there was violation, particularly of state laws, but not enough to prove a violation of federal civil rights law. And that, that’s really, that was, that was it. That was it.

Wayne Budd: There was no physical harm done of any consequence. There may have been some rousting, but there wasn’t to the level of a violent beating.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): And it all just got lost in this jurisdictional morass.

Ralph and Wayne expected Boston police to get down to it. But when commissioner Mickey Roache’s department investigated itself – they determined that they had done a great job.

No officer or detective was ever disciplined — save for Detective O’Malley, who got a five-day suspension for swearing. Yup, swearing. And he appealed the decision to the Civil Service Commission, which eventually sided with O’Malley and cleared him altogether.

Ralph Martin: It was discipline in a… I would say almost unnoticeable, and certainly not responsible, way.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): For Wayne and Ralph, this felt like failure.

They’re both Black. They saw what the police did and the toll it took on the community. But they determined they couldn’t fix it with the tools they had. When they told the public they couldn’t charge anybody, people were furious.

Wayne Budd: The reaction from the community was particularly stinging because nobody’s doing anything about what these cops did in our community. You’re the U.S. attorney, Wayne Budd, and you’re quote, our last hope in getting justice from this.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): They did what they could then. And they kept trying to address these issues – well after.

In 1992, Ralph was appointed Boston’s first Black district attorney. Ralph deserved the job, no doubt. But it also was perceived as an attempt to break up the white Irish stronghold in that office, and partly in response to the Stuart case.

Wayne went on to become U.S. associate attorney general in 1992. He oversaw the federal prosecution of the Los Angeles police officers who beat Rodney King.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): But police brutality persists…

Archived Recording (Protesters): (PEOPLE CHANT “I CAN’T BREATHE”)

Archived Recording (Reporter): On May 25th, 2020, George Floyd was killed by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.

Archived Recording (Reporter 2): The murder of George Floyd sparked the largest call for racial justice in this country since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Archived Recording (Reporter 3): In Minneapolis tonight, tensions are high as four police officers were fired after a man was pinned to the ground and died.

Archived Recording (Protester): (PEOPLE CHANT “I CAN’T BREATHE”) Louder!

ADRIAN WALKER (host): In the fall of 2020, with America up in arms over racism and police abuse, the Boston Police Department was again under the microscope.

The Globe – including some of the same reporters behind this podcast — had exposed all sorts of corruption and misconduct within the police department.

Amid all this, the city turned to Wayne Budd.

Wayne chaired a commission that came up with a slate of Boston Police reforms. Some of them resembled recommendations that came out of a commission formed in the wake of the Stuart case.

And then… in 2021… Boston took another big step.

Archived Recording (Reporter): City Councilor Michelle Wu makes history becoming the next mayor. Just minutes ago, Wu stepped onto that stage.

Archived Recording (Michelle Wu): We are ready to meet this moment. We are ready to become a Boston for everyone. We’re ready to be a Boston that doesn’t push people out, but welcomes all who call our city home.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Voters elected Michelle Wu mayor. It was the first time voters picked someone who wasn’t a white guy.

In short order, Wu made a statement with her choice for police commissioner.

Archived Recording (Reporter): Mayor Michelle Wu swore in Michael Cox less than 90 minutes ago.

Archived Recording (Michael Cox): This is an incredible opportunity. And with all great opportunities comes great responsibility. And I look forward to making sure I live up to that responsibility.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Michael Cox has a heckuva back story.

At the time of the Stuart shooting, he was a brand new cop, one of the few Black cops working drugs in a monochromatic department.

One night, while Cox was working undercover, fellow Boston cops mistook him for a drug dealer and beat the crap out of him. It took him years to heal.

Archived Recording (Michael Cox): They told me I was pretty unrecognizable. I was kind of left out there and I couldn’t understand, you know, why a person would or people would do that.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Rather than quitting — or suing the city — Cox stayed on the force and rose through the ranks. His appointment as commissioner was widely viewed as the best hope of ushering in a new era for the BPD. The department that tore through Mission Hill is now led by a respected Black officer who personally suffered the worst of that old police culture.

Archived Recording (Michael Cox): I get it at every level. You know, I’ve been both the victim, I’m a person of color, I know I’ve seen, you know, what it’s like, you know, in the departments when they fail in this way.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Cox declined to sit down for an interview for this podcast.

The fingerprints of Charles Stuart may not be so visible today – at least on the surface. The teachable moments persist in the homes of Black and brown families. Older brothers pass on tips to boys who will one day become construction workers and help build condos where a man named Charles Stuart once called 911 to say he and his wife were shot.

Today, that old Boston is no more. The city is changing… Fast.

Author Howard Bryant called me many years ago, when he set out to write a book about sports and race and Boston. Back then, he pressed me about the Charles Stuart case. Turns out, he had been thinking about it as long as I have.

Howard Bryant: And by the end of that Stuart case, in some ways it was the end of that dynasty. It was the end of the old Boston as we knew it. And now we have the shiny skyscraper Boston, the real estate Boston, the nobody can afford to live here Boston. The racism of this city in so many ways has been defeated by the money. And I’m not sure that’s a compliment because I sort of miss the ethnicity of this city. I don’t really need more yoga mats, but this is what happens. And when you look at what took place, what would take place in the city after the early 1990s, it’s a different place.

But I do miss the fact that when I go into Dorchester, my old neighborhood, there’s tons of white people there. And I’m like, “What happened to our community?” And the reason why I think that isn’t because I don’t want white people in those communities. It’s that, you know what’s going to happen next. Because when white people move in, they take it all.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Type Mission Hill into an online apartment search, and today you’ll see studios listed for $3200 a month, complete with fitness centers and electric vehicle charging stations.

Yes, there still are a few bars with shamrocks in their signage. But you’re just as likely to find a place that serves a mean oat-milk macchiato near where the Mission Hill public housing complex stands.

Howard Bryant: And what Boston has lost in its character of its neighborhoods, in a lot of ways, was in service of progress… and some of that’s really sad.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): You’ll find this kind of nostalgia for the past from a lot of people.

Even retired officer Billy Dunn hates what his old stomping ground has become. Though he lives in a city just a few miles to the south, the former Red Sox bullpen cop won’t even visit Boston these days.

Billy Dunn: Nothing in there for me. City is gone. The city ain’t there no more. Look what’s happening. My heart is with every cop that works the street. The city’s gone.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): To Billy, the city is crime-ridden and dangerous — the result, he believes, of progressive politics run amok. And perhaps most troubling to Billy, it’s a place where the police are no longer beloved, respected, or supported.

Billy Dunn: There’s nothing in that city for me. Everything about that city right now is wrong. Everything they’re doing is wrong because they don’t care about the people or certain people… It’s just defund the police. You know, that’s not going to solve all their problems, but it’s certainly adding to them. And you don’t care about your citizens. City of Boston is not there anymore. Not the city I worked for. Not the city I grew up in. I forbid my grandkids to go in there. It is what it is.

George “Chip” Greenidge: Hi, folks. We’re going to go way in the back, way in the back. Tell him to come on. Hello... Hello, Maurice. All the way in the back. Leave that. Don’t touch the door, it locks.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): If anything good came in the aftermath of the terrible murders of Carol and Christopher Stuart… it might be this.

George “Chip” Greenidge: Everybody around the table, let’s go! Get these chairs out the way.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): A mile or so from where the crime occurred three decades ago, a group of Black and Latino high school students are meeting with their mentor on a cold winter’s night.

George “Chip” Greenidge: Hey, y’all, you can’t talk back there…

ADRIAN WALKER (host): George “Chip” Greenidge Jr. is the founder of a non-profit dedicated to building up tomorrow’s leaders.

George “Chip” Greenidge: Way I pay it back is I’ve been involved with a lot of community based programs to help the next generation to become productive citizens and to help other people.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Chip knows Mission HIll. His dad’s lived there since the ‘80s. When Chip was 18, on the cusp of adulthood, he watched as the city convulsed over the shooting near his dad’s home.

George “Chip” Greenidge: I was a teenager learning the world, learning myself in the world, knowing that myself as a 6′5, 200 plus Black male body walking the streets.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): When the police tore through Mission Hill, Chip’s father kept him from visiting the neighborhood.

George “Chip” Greenidge: It was hurtful that I couldn’t come home. But I knew that he wanted to keep me safe.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): There was another family – worlds away from Chip’s – that would have done anything to keep their family safe too.

Carol’s family’s response to the crime would alter the course of Chip’s life.

Archived Recording (Giusto DiMaiti): There has been so much said and written about this terrible tragedy in our lives that we don’t want to add to that today.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Carol’s parents wanted something to remember her by. They wanted her legacy to be about something other than her husband’s terrible crime. A few weeks after Chuck’s death, Carol’s family addressed the media – their first public comments since the debacle. Her father – Giusto – alongside her mother, Evelyn, and brother Carl – said Carol’s goal in life was to be happy – and a good person to others.

Archived Recording (Giusto DiMaiti): Her mother and I were filled with pride for the way she lived her life. She brought joy and comfort not only to us, but to all she knew. Carol was a loving, caring person who always thought of the other person first. She loved to help those less fortunate than herself and was constantly trying to improve their place in this world.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): And then… the DiMaitis’ family lawyer made an announcement.

Archived Recording (Lawyer): The DiMaiti family believes that Carol would not have wanted her death to be remembered as a cause of such divisiveness. Carol was a caring daughter, filled with a love of life and compassion for others. She would not want to be remembered as the victim of a sensational murder, but rather as a woman who left behind a legacy of healing and of compassion. Therefore, on behalf of the DiMaiti family, I would like to announce that we are filing today papers to establish a nonprofit corporation to be called the Carol DiMaiti Stuart Foundation, Inc. The purpose of this foundation will be to memorialize Carol’s name by granting college scholarships to residents in the Mission Hill area of Boston and to promote better race relationships throughout the city and Greater Boston.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Over the next month, the Carol DiMaiti Stuart Foundation garnered more than $270,000 in donations. The letters and support poured in from across the country. Vice President Dan Quayle sent $150, as did Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank. Governor Michael Dukakis donated $50, along with a lunch invite. In due time, the foundation put that money to use.

One of its first scholarship recipients was a young man named Chip.

George “Chip” Greenidge: I think Carol’s mom realized it was a major tragedy, but she wanted something good to come out of it, and she realized it was a lot of money that was raised. When there was a final session where they brought all the scholars together [they] gave us all big hugs and called us all their kids. The smile on her face was amazing. She really was proud to make sure that a generation was going to be able to get support and resources that’d been so hurt by this act.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Of the many victims in this case, no one suffered more personal or devastating losses than the DiMaiti family. Yet it was the DiMaitis - not City Hall, certainly not the BPD - who sought to build bridges. Of all the players in this drama, Carol’s shattered family were the ones who epitomized grace.

George “Chip” Greenidge: I was very proud to be one of the first recipients, but also very proud that I’ve done, like many of the scholars have done, is to come back and give back and help other young people be able to live their dream. And I think that was the live on. So I think the work that I do for years in the Roxbury neighborhood is pushing on that dream of Carol and of Chris DiMaiti Stuart. That’s what I do.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): The scholarship helped Chip pay for tuition at Morehouse College. These days he’s finishing a PhD at Georgia State University. He’s a busy guy – he’s also a visiting fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School.

And get this… in early 2023 Boston Mayor Michelle Wu appointed him to Boston’s Reparations Task Force where he and others examine the wrongs that the city has done to Black residents.

George “Chip” Greenidge: I think the push was that we would always give back to the neighborhood of Mission Hill and in Roxbury. And that’s what I’ve done. Always.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): Chip was busy doing that work – mentoring teens of color – when we caught up with him that night last winter.

George “Chip” Greenidge: We even got some today that are — she back in the back right now — that’ll be working on a session about their college essays. (SHOUTS) How’s everyone doing today?

Teens: Good.

Teens: How’s everyone doing today?!

Teens: Good.

George “Chip” Greenidge: Good, good, good. Welcome, welcome, welcome.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): The kids here tonight they grew up in the neighborhood and attend area high schools:

Student 1: Newton South.

Student 2: Excel High School.

Student 3: Snowden High School

Student 4: Excel High School.

Student 5: McKinley Prep High School.

Student 6: Concord-Carlisle High School.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): And the students are wondering what these strangers with microphones are doing in their class.

George “Chip” Greenidge: This is the Boston Globe right here. They’re doing a special investigation piece on something that happened maybe 30 years ago when I was 19, 18 years old, on the Charles Stuart-DiMaiti murder. Anyone ever heard of Charles Stuart before? Nobody? Charles Stuart. Anyone heard of Charles Stuart before?

Teens: No.

George “Chip” Greenidge: Anyone heard of Carol Stuart before?

Teens: No.

George “Chip” Greenidge: Okay.

ADRIAN WALKER (host): The students look perplexed. Several mumble ‘No.’

George “Chip” Greenidge Not at all? All right. Okay. Well, we’re going to get our session started. I hope you guys, you guys will be really good and we’re going to be able to work together to kind of get you guys to think about college, careers, and community service. All right? Let’s get this happening. All right. Let me hear yell, “Yay.”

Teens: Yay.

George “Chip” Greenidge: Yay!

Teens: Yay!

George “Chip” Greenidge: Yay. (CLAPS)

ADRIAN WALKER (host): For 34 years, Chuck Stuart and all the trauma he sowed, has served as a mark against the city… a slice of history that’s been impossible to move past. It’s not as though racial divisions have disappeared. But it’s not the same city that fell for Chuck’s hoax.

Take this moment… Chip Greenidge is helping a group of Black and Latino teens write their college essays. These teens haven’t forgotten the nightmare in Mission Hill. They don’t even know this part of history.

But that means they don’t have to live with it either.

And so they are free to put pens to paper and set off to chart a new future for Boston.

Credits

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.