fb-pixelCharles Stuart case: Boston mayor to issue formal apology from city Skip to main content

Mayor Wu to formally apologize to men wrongfully arrested after Carol Stuart’s death, acknowledge harm to Boston’s Black community

A Boston Globe article from Oct. 25, 1989, is projected with the Boston city skyline behind it.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

Read the Globe’s series, ‘Nightmare in Mission Hill,’ on the Stuart case.

More than 34 years after Charles Stuart shot his pregnant wife and blamed a Black man for the crime, Mayor Michelle Wu plans to issue a formal apology from the city to two men who were wrongly linked to the shooting.

Wu will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday at City Hall to issue apologies to Alan Swanson and Willie Bennett, her office said in a media advisory.

Wu plans to “publicly acknowledge the harms caused by the City of Boston to the Black community,” according to the advisory.


Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox will join Wu at the press conference. Swanson is expected to attend along with Bennett’s family.

“This dark time in the City’s history exacerbated distrust between Boston’s Black community and the Boston Police Department,” Wu’s advisory said. “Acknowledging this painful moment and apologizing for the City’s wrongdoing is an effort to aid in the healing of those still living with this trauma and our City as a whole.”

Neither Swanson nor Bennett were formally charged with anything related to the case. But both men were publicly labeled as suspects in the notorious shooting when the media linked them to one of the city’s most shocking crimes.

The apology follows an extensive Globe investigation and a related HBO docu-series — into the Stuart case and its aftermath. The series came out earlier this month.

Swanson, the first man to be publicly linked to the murder, was arrested five days after the shooting, when police officers found him and his girlfriend staying in an apartment in Mission Hill with a black track suit soaking in the sink.

They charged him with trespassing, and Swanson subsequently spent three weeks in jail while police tried and failed to find more physical evidence to tie him to the crime. He was ultimately released after another charge of armed robbery was also thrown out.


But as the case against Swanson faltered, police turned to Bennett, a well-known criminal in the neighborhood, as a likelier suspect. Their case against him centered on the dubious testimony of two then-teenagers who reportedly heard that he had shot the Stuarts.

The teens’ stories shifted multiple times, and they even recanted their statements before a grand jury. But Bennett looked likely to be indicted — until just days after the New Year, when Stuart’s brother Matthew went to police and admitted his brother was the mastermind behind Carol’s death.

The closest the Bennetts had previously gotten to an apology from the city came shortly after Stuart’s suicide, when then-Mayor Ray Flynn visited the Bennett family home to apologize — but stayed so briefly that family members said he never even sat down. The city also reached a $12,500 settlement with the Bennett family in 1995 after years of lawsuits — but did not admit blame.

Elizabeth Koh can be reached at elizabeth.koh@globe.com. Follow her @elizabethrkoh. Tonya Alanez can be reached at tonya.alanez@globe.com. Follow her @talanez.