The almost unbelievable true story of the brutal murder of Carol Stuart — a crime that Ignited Boston’s worst racial nightmares.
No one on Harvest Road could remember the exact date, but it was late on a Friday night, well into the New England summer — August most likely, but cool enough that windows were open for the night. And there was a battle royal raging at the Chuck Stuart house. The Stuarts were not known for having loud fights, but this one was enough to wake the neighborhood.
“You just don’t care!” Carol was heard screaming over tears. “Do you? Do you?”
In reply a window thumped down.
“I am pregnant, and you stay out half the night with your friends? This cannot continue!”
More windows slammed shut, one after the other.
“This cannot continue after the baby is born!”
“Don’t you care?”
A crash was followed by a muffled shout, and then crying that lasted for some time as neighbors went about closing their windows. The next morning some of them noticed that Carol’s face was red and puffy when she came outside to tend her flowers.
Through the rest of the summer, however, Chuck kept up appearances, presiding at several pool parties with his wife, hosting her parents and friends, bragging about the son they now knew she was carrying. “I got her pregnant the first time we tried!” he crowed to male acquaintances. But in Revere, Massachusetts, his closest friends sensed that Chuck had become a very unhappy man. There, several heard him use a new term to describe his wife. “That fat wop,” he called her. In Revere that summer, he swore out Carol’s death warrant.
First he sounded out his brother Michael. At 27, Mike was closest to Chuck in age. One night in late August, Chuck took Mike aside and told him that things weren’t working out between him and Carol. He needed help. He mentioned getting rid of her. Mike brushed this off. “I don’t know exactly what you’re talking about, but I’m not getting involved in any sort of crazy thing you’re talking about,” he said with a nervous laugh.
Chuck didn’t miss a beat. His face broke into that disarming crooked half-grin. “Hey, I’m kidding,” he said in a tone that accused his brother of taking life too seriously. “Come on!”
Mike put the conversation out of his mind. Chuck had been under a lot of pressure and he was always joking around. For a while he thought nothing more of it.
Later came poor Matthew, the brother who tended to ask “How high?” when Chuck said “Jump.” Chuck was more cautious after the other rejection. To Matt he outlined the suggestion of an insurance scam.
At first his kid brother balked. It was worth money, a couple of thousand. But even though he was eager for Chuck’s approval, Matt happened to be having problems of his own at the time, and he wasn’t looking for any more complications. His girlfriend Janet — pretty, smart, self-assured, anxious to find a good husband and increasingly aware that Matt wasn’t the world’s best prospect — had recently broken up with him, making it clear that a guy who drank nights and worked in a paint factory days wasn’t the answer to her dreams any longer. Desperately in love, Matt had quickly resolved to win her back by “going on the wagon” and, he told friends, making every effort to “keep my nose clean.”
The last thing Matt wanted was trouble. But Chuck could be very persuasive. “All right,” Chuck had said, bearing down. “How does $10,000 sound?”
This got Matt’s attention. Ten thousand dollars was about eight months’ take-home pay. To a 23-year-old pining to win back the woman he loved, $10,000 would solve every problem in the world. Ten thousand dollars would last forever!