Below is my column as submitted to the editor of the Sturbridge Times Magazine for the July 2016 issue. Please note, the title is different from the one published.
The young lady broken the story has done a lot of work. If, after reading, by some miracle, someone has some information about what has happened, please leave a comment at the CryptidAntiquarian blog. She has written a number of posts on the subject:
Post #1 Boston’s Mysterious Vanishing Men February 20, 2016
Post #2 Boston’s Mysterious Vanishing Men (Follow Up) February 24, 2016
Murder Most Foul?
It was more than two and a half decades ago that a horrible murder rocked Boston and everybody got it wrong. A devoted couple were driving home from childbirth classes at a Boston hospital when they were carjacked at a stop light. The husband was shot in the stomach and the pregnant wife's skull was pierced by a bullet.
The husband, Charles Stuart would recover. His wife, Carol DiMaiti Stuart would die at the hospital and the baby would perish 17 days later.
Following Charles' description, Willie Bennet, a local black man was arrested.
It was a heartbreaking story. A prosperous hard working couple suffering tragedy as the perfect life evaporated. No one could help but feel for the surviving husband.
Then it fell apart.
Charles' brother Matthew went to the police and admitted his part as accomplice in his brother's murder of Carol. Before he could be arrested, the murderer jumped off the Tobin Bridge.
There would be no end of recriminations. Innocent Willie Bennet was released and the authorities were pilloried for the rush to judgement.
I was one of the multitude who wrongly bought into the scam. I like to think I am no naif, but there was one big extenuating circumstance that convinced me a crime had been committed.
During wartime, it is not unknown for someone to fear being killed in combat, and shoot themselves such that they are not badly hurt but are unfit for action. Such an injury is known as “the million dollar wound.” Had Mr. Stuart pointed a gun at his leg and pulled the trigger, one likes to think we would have been a bit more skeptical.
Stuart did not do that. Putting a bullet in one's stomach is a dangerous thing to do, even if one had studied anatomy. In the annals of self-inflicted wounds to avoid combat or anything else, it is doubtful anyone has tried it. The man threw the police and the public off the track. What else could they've missed?
Or, be missing...now?
Over the past thirteen years 11 men in Boston have gone missing and ended up found dead in water. The police and regular media have not noticed anything untoward, but someone has.
Blogger Elise Soper is the first person to see a pattern.
Elise is a young woman of wide ranging interests and is curious about much. In fact, she refers to her blog, CryptidAntiquarian, as a cabinet of curiosities. She is inquisitive where the authorities and the Fourth Estate see nothing.
Ms. Soper stumbled on a Reddit post and it led to learning about the work of a David Paulides. He was onto pattern recognition in cases of people who after disappearing are found dead in national parks. Her interest in what he wrote led to her being more aware of such cases.
Like the detective she was becoming, she noticed something in November of 2015,
“After my obsession with unexplained missing persons cases was sparked by David Paulides (as chronicled in my last post) I couldn’t help but begin to notice them more, and then Dennis Njoroge went missing. I saw flyers posted all around Boston, his eyes following me daily, and my heart fell. I had a bad feeling in my gut as I began to connect him to other cases. I remember telling friends gravely that if the precedent was correct, he would be found dead in the Charles River.”
Sure enough, the young man was found in the river. The police suspected nothing un-toward and made little information public. Elise intimated she had made an effort to pry some loose.
She built the list of 11 and posted the pertinent information about the men and the circumstances, as far as is known.
The latest one was this past February. You probably heard about it as it was much in the news. Zachary Marr was celebrating his 22nd birthday with relatives at the Bell in Hand, the country's oldest tavern in the Government Center area of downtown Boston. It was during our warm winter this year on a Saturday evening. The district is usually lively on a weekend.
Around 1:30 a.m. Zachary went outside for a cigarette. He sent a snapchat to his cousin to tell her they would not let him back in. She agreed to come to him, but he was gone when the cousin came out with the others. The bouncer says Marr did not try to come back in and CCTV does not record an attempt. About a month later, he was noticed in the water by the Museum of Science. To quote Elise, “Why he left the Bell in Hand and walked a mile to the Charles is unknown.”
Elise also has a map with where the victims were last seen alive and where they were found. It is all more than curious and one has to wonder about the blithe attitude of the constabulary. Ms. Soper does.
I have known BPD detectives and one was a relative. Yes, a police officer is a government worker with all that entails good or bad. My acquaintances have not lacked for subtlety. One should hope, forlorn as that may be, their lack of interest is feigned and they are playing close to the vest to protect the investigation.
Despite little help from the authorities, Elise Soper has done an excellent bit of sleuthing. In fact, it is even bigger than Boston. I am going to pay attention to CryptidAntiquarian going forward.
I've never been a Doors fan, but a line from what is probably their most known song, Riders on the Storm popped into my mind as I read about the case, “There's a killer on the road, His brain is squirming like a toad.” Whoever or whatever is out their may not be “on the road”, but this is hauntingly disturbing.