Mayor Says Sorry to Black Men Wrongly Linked to Murder That Showed Racism in Boston
In October 1989, Boston witnessed one of its most notorious crimes: the murder of Carol Stuart. Carol, a 29-year-old tax attorney and expectant mother, was shot and killed by her husband, Charles “Chuck” Stuart, in a twisted plot to collect life insurance money.
Carol and Charles Stuart seemed to be a successful couple living in Boston. Charles, the general manager at a fur shop on Newbury Street, and Carol, a tax attorney, were expecting their first child. On October 23, after attending childbirth classes at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, their lives took a tragic turn.
Charles Stuart fabricated a story about a carjacking and shooting in the Roxbury neighborhood by an African-American man. He claimed that this assailant shot both him and Carol. Carol was shot in the head, and she died the following morning at the same hospital where they had just attended birthing classes.
Tragically, their baby, Christopher, who was delivered prematurely by cesarean section, also died 17 days later due to trauma and oxygen deprivation.
The case quickly became a media sensation, fueled by racial tensions. The Boston Police Department, led by the description provided by Charles Stuart, used controversial stop and frisk tactics on young Black men in the city. Two men, Alan “Albie” Swanson and William “Willie” Bennett, were wrongfully arrested based on Stuart’s description.
The case took a dramatic turn when Charles’ brother, Matthew Stuart, confessed to the police that the carjacking story was a hoax. Charles had orchestrated the murder of his wife to collect on her life insurance policy.
Following this revelation, Charles Stuart, who was already suspected by some detectives due to his calm demeanor after the murder, met with his lawyer. After realizing the gravity of the situation, he spent a night in a motel and then committed suicide by jumping off the Tobin Bridge into the Mystic River. His body was recovered later that day.
Matthew Stuart was later indicted on charges including obstruction of justice, unlawful possession of a firearm, and insurance fraud. He was sentenced to three to five years in prison. Released on parole in 1997, Matthew’s life spiraled downwards, leading to his death from an apparent drug overdose in 2011.
In a bizarre twist, it was revealed that Charles Stuart had approached another brother and a friend months before the murder to assist him in killing his wife. Charles Stuart’s rise from a short-order cook to a successful business manager was marked by ambition, which some speculate may have driven him to commit the murder. He was also speculated to be having an affair and was concerned about his wife’s career plans after the birth of their child.
The case had lasting impacts on the city of Boston. Willie Bennett, who was exonerated of the murders, was later found guilty of an unrelated robbery and spent years in prison. He was eventually awarded a modest sum in damages for the wrongful accusation. In 2023, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu issued formal apologies to Swanson and Bennett, who were wrongly tied to the shooting.
In memory of Carol DiMaiti Stuart, her family established the Carol DiMaiti Stuart Foundation. This foundation provides scholarships to residents of Mission Hill and graduates of Malden High School, demonstrating Carol’s legacy of healing and compassion. The case remains a somber chapter in Boston’s history, a reminder of the consequences of unchecked ambition and the destructive power of deceit.