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Charles Stuart in the hospital after the incident
(from Rescue 911)

Charles "Chuck" Stuart (December 18, 1959–January 4, 1990) was a man from Reading, Massachusetts, who murdered his pregnant wife and inflamed racial tensions in the Boston area by concocting a fictitious African-American assailant.

Contents

Murders

On October 23, 1989, Stuart, manager of the upscale Kakas Furs on Newbury Street, and his pregnant wife Carol (nee Carol DiMaiti, March 26, 1959), a lawyer, got into their car after attending childbirth classes at Brigham and Women's Hospital. According to Stuart's subsequent statement, a black gunman with a raspy voice forced his way into their car at a stoplight, ordered them to drive to nearby Mission Hill, robbed them, then opened fire, shooting Charles in the stomach and Carol in the head. Stuart then drove away, despite his wound, calling 911 on his car phone.

A film crew for the CBS Reality television series Rescue 911 happened to be riding with Boston Emergency Medical Services personnel and was able to capture the scene as police and paramedics assisted Stuart.

Carol Stuart died that night, after her son, Christopher, was delivered two months early by caesarean section. The infant suffered seizures due to oxygen deprivation and died 17 days later after his father authorized discontinuing life support.

Boston police searched for suspects matching Stuart's description of the assailant. Police suspected a man named Willie Bennett and on December 28, Stuart picked him out of a lineup. Though investigating officers asked doctors whether Stuart's wounds could have been self-inflicted, they were told that this was very unlikely, given the severity of the injuries.

The case against Bennett abruptly collapsed on January 3, when Charles Stuart's brother, Matthew, identified Charles as the killer. Matthew admitted that he had driven to meet Stuart that night to help him commit what he'd been told was to be an insurance fraud.

Upon arrival, Matthew said that he had seen that Carol had been shot, and that his brother, also wounded, had apparently shot himself to support his story. Matthew took the gun and a bag of valuables, including Carol's wedding rings, and threw them off the Pines River Bridge in Revere. The items were later recovered.

Police later learned that Stuart had been upset at the prospect of becoming a father, particularly worried that his wife would not go back to work and their financial status would be diminished; moreover, Stuart had been interested in (but allegedly not involved with) an intern at the fur salon. An article in The Boston Globe alleged that a $480,000 check was issued to Charles Stuart in payment for a life insurance policy on his wife, but this was later found to be false, as no such check was ever found.

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Suicide

On January 4, 1990, hours after his brother went to police and he became aware that he was a suspect, Charles Stuart committed suicide by leaping to his death from the Tobin Bridge, in Chelsea. A note was found in Stuart's car, stating that he could not deal with the allegations against him.

Carol Stuart Memorial Scholarship

In Carol Stuart's memory, her family established the Carol DiMaiti Stuart Foundation to provide scholarship aid to Mission Hill residents. By early 2006, the foundation had awarded $1.2 million to 220 students.[1]

Cultural references

Stuart was portrayed by Thirtysomething star Ken Olin in the 1990 CBS TV movie Good Night Sweet Wife: A Murder in Boston.

Mark Wahlberg and his former group Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch referred to this story in their song "Wildside."

Ed O.G. & Da Bulldogs refer to this story in the song "Speak Upon It" from the album Life of a Kid in the Ghetto.

The Law & Order episode "Happily Ever After" is based on the Charles Stuart case.

The plot of Robert B. Parker's Spenser novel Small Vices revolves around a case where a black man is framed for the murder of white woman.[2] The Stuart case is also referred to by name during the novel as example of how effective blaming a non-existent minority perpetrator can be in distracting the police.[3]

References

  1. ^ "Evelyn DiMaiti, reached out to help many after loss; at 74". The Boston Globe. January 21, 2006. http://www.boston.com/news/globe/obituaries/articles/2006/01/21/evelyn_dimaiti_reached_out_to_help_many_after_loss_at_74/. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  2. ^ Parker, Robert B. Small Vices, New York: Putnam, 1997 ISBN 0399142444 ISBN 978-0399142444
  3. ^ Parker, page 48

External links

Select Bibliography

  • Sharkey, Joe (1991). Deadly Greed: The Riveting True Story of the Stuart Murder Case That Rocked Boston and Shocked the Nation. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-13-584178-X.

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