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On Oct. 23, 1989, a white woman named Carol DiMaiti Stuart was murdered in Boston's Mission Hill neighborhood on her way home from a childbirth class at Brigham and Women's Hospital. The killing shocked the city. Her husband, Charles Stuart, claimed that an unidentified black man was responsible.
Local police responded aggressively. They searched homes in Mission Hill, stopped and frisked black men and boys, and eventually named a suspect: a young black man named Willie Bennett. But the city learned the truth when Charles Stuart jumped to his death off the Tobin Bridge shortly after his brother, Matthew Stuart, identified him as the real killer.
The murder, the hoax and the investigation consumed the city. It opened old racial wounds in Boston and it's on many people's minds again this week.
WBUR's Sacha Pfeiffer speaks with a local journalist who has written about the Stuart case — and who has spoken in recent years with Bennett, the wrongly accused suspect.
- "The murder and subsequent investigation touched every raw nerve in racially sensitive Boston. In the wake of the murder, black men and boys were searched without warning in Mission Hill. Mayor Raymond Flynn infamously (and uncharacteristically) branded the unknown killer as 'an animal.'"
- "News reports focused on the tragedy from the angle of a young, white, suburban couple, coming into Boston for childbirth classes as they prepared for the arrival of their first born child. They were dubbed the 'Camelot Couple.'"
- "'Before [Charles Stuart] happened we couldn’t get police to come over there to save our lives, literally. When the Stuart case happened, they were everywhere.'"
This segment aired on October 24, 2014.
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