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       February 11, 2012 4:15 PM

 Devoted husband or sick psychopath?


Charles Stuart

Married in 1985, Charles and Carol Stuart were a handsome successful couple. Charles [left] managed an upscale fur store in Boston. Carol, a Boston College graduate, was a lawyer. In 1989 they were expecting their first child.

On October 23, 1989, they left a childbirth class at a Boston hospital and headed home.

They never made it. 

In a chilling 911 call, Charles pleaded for help, saying a black man had shot them. To pinpoint his location, the police dispatcher kept him on the line. Groaning and clearly in pain, Charles said the man robbed them and forced him to drive to a black neighborhood in Mission Hill. Then he shot Carol in the head, shot Charles in the stomach and ran away. Tapes of the call, played on radio and TV, mesmerized listeners all over the U.S.

The Rescue

A film crew for a TV reality series happened to be riding with Boston EMS and shot footage of police and paramedics assisting Charles Stuart. Carol died at the hospital after doctors delivered her son two months early by caesarean section. Investigators asked doctors if Charles Stuart's wounds could have been self-inflicted and were told this was unlikely, given the severity of the injuries. Seventeen days later Charles authorized discontinuation of life support and the Stuart infant died.

Boston police searched for men matching Stuart's description of the black assailant. The entire country was outraged by the senseless murder of a mother and her baby. Many called for reinstatement of the death penalty. During his six-week hospital stay, police questioned Charles repeatedly, but he stuck to his story.

In November, police arrested Willie Bennett, a black man, on unrelated charges and Bennett became the prime suspect in the murder. On December 28, ten days after his 30th birthday, Charles Stuart picked Bennett out of a lineup.

The story unravels

But on January 3, 1990, the case against Bennett collapsed. Charles Stuart's youngest brother Mathew, 23, [left] told police Charles was the real killer. He said that he had, in a prearranged plan with Charles, driven to the shooting to retrieve Carol's purse, which contained her wedding rings. It also held a .38 caliber revolver. Mathew said he believed it would be an insurance scam, not a murder, and threw the purse off a bridge in Revere. Police later recovered it.

The coward's way out

Twelve hours after Mathew's confession, Charles Stuart jumped to his death from the Tobin Bridge into the Mystic River. He left a note on the front seat. It was not a confession. In it, Charles said he could not bear the charges against him. However, after learning that his brother Mathew was about to talk to police, Charles reportedly confessed to his lawyer.

A not-so-idyllic marriage

Days later, others began to tell their stories. Charles was unhappy about Carol's pregnancy and asked her to get an abortion. He feared their financial situation would decline if she did not return to work. A neighbor said Carol complained to her after she got pregnant, saying Charles would go out Friday nights by himself and stay out late. Police learned that Charles was interested in a woman who worked at the fur salon he managed. Upon his release from the hospital, he cashed a $100,000 life insurance check, paid $16,000 cash for a Nissan Maxima and began buying women's jewelry: a $250 gold brooch and a $999 pair of diamond earrings. 

A man told a grand jury that Charles had complained to him that his pregnant wife "had the upper hand" in their marriage. He was angry that she refused to have an abortion and asked the man to help him kill her. The man refused.

Charles' brother Michael, 27, told his lawyer that weeks before the murder, Charles had asked him to help kill Carol. Michael refused. However, three days after the shooting, his brother Mathew told him that Charles' account of story was untrue. After a 22-month investigation, a grand jury indicted Mathew Stuart for conspiracy in the murder, obstruction of justice and other charges.

The DiMaiti family reacts

Lawyers acknowledged that members of the Stuart family and their spouses either participated in the crime or learned about it later and did not tell police.

In a TV interview, Carol's brother Carl said: "Can you believe that they came to our house to comfort our parents? It's mind-boggling that they could allow us to visit Chuck and pray for his recovery, knowing he was responsible for what happened to Carol."

Michael and Mathew Stuart were pallbearers at Carol's funeral. [Photo left] Charles remained  hospitalized but wrote something for a friend to read at the funeral. It read, in part: "Good night my sweet wife, my love. God has called you to his side." Referring to her killer, Charles wrote: "In our souls we must forgive this sinner because He would too."

A rags to riches life

Charles Stuart was born in the blue-collar community of Revere, MA, but by 1989 he was living large. He had a beautiful well-educated wife, a house with a swimming pool in the suburbs and a well-paid job at a store on Newbury Street, where fashion boutiques and fancy restaurants abound. He told friends he had gone to Brown University on a football scholarship. A lie. He enrolled at Salem State College in 1979 but dropped out two months later.

His formal education ended at a Wakefield (MA) vocational high school. Charles studied culinary arts. After graduating in 1977, he got a job at an Italian restaurant in Revere. And met Carol DiMaiti, a Boston College student working there as a waitress. "She fell madly in love with him," said a woman who worked there at the time. "But Carol's father, Giusto DiMaiti, didn't like him."

In 1981, Charles got a job at Kakas & Sons, an elegant fur store on Newbury Street. His co-workers liked him. Things were looking up. Charles and Carol married in 1985, bought a nice house, and after Carol got pregnant, they began buying baby clothes and furniture.

The dark side

But Charles was infatuated with a 22-year-old woman who worked at the fur shop, a Brown University graduate who was strikingly attractive. They began to go out for meals together. After the shooting, she called him often while he was in the hospital. However, her lawyer later issued a statement saying that when Charles tried to turn their relationship into something more intimate after his release from the hospital in December, she broke it off.

On the last night of his life, Charles checked into the Sheraton Tara in Braintree and requested a wake-up call for 4:30 AM. He then drove to Boston, stopped on the Tobin Bridge and turned on the hazard lights of his car. He got out, propped up the hood and jumped off the bridge. When police found the car around 7 AM and discovered it belonged to Charles Stuart, they thought it might be another hoax. It wasn't. Police found his body in the Mystic River.

A memorial scholarship and a plea bargain

Because Charles falsely accused a black man, exacerbating racial tensions in the city of Boston, Carol's family established the Carol DiMaiti Stuart Foundation, to provide scholarship aid to Mission Hill residents. Some donations are small, others larger.

"I am 70 years old on a fixed income, otherwise my donation would be larger," wrote a woman who enclosed a $10 check. "My beautiful 26-year-old daughter was murdered by her husband and I know the heartache of the family."

By 2010, the foundation had awarded $1.38 million to 230 students. 

In a 1992 plea deal, Mathew pleaded guilty to all charges, in exchange for a 3-year prison sentence. After his release in 1995, he was arrested on drug charges and sent back to prison. His lawyer appealed, and prosecutors dropped the charges. Photo at right: Mathew leaving the funeral of his brother, Charles Stuart. 

On September 3, 2011, Mathew was found dead of a drug overdose at a homeless shelter in Cambridge, MA. He was 45.

Willie Bennett, the forgotten victim

Stuart's false accusation set off a firestorm in Boston's black community. As it had during the 1974-75 school busing crisis, Boston again descended into bitter racial acrimony. Each year on the anniversary of the murder, community leaders and residents gather to seek harmony. In 2009, twenty years after the controversy, they invited Willie Bennett to speak. "I hope  he does," said one Mission Hill resident. "He was accused of a crime he didn't commit."

But Willie Bennett did not attend. Saying he has serious health issues, Bennett's sister spoke on his behalf: "It still bothers him," she said, adding that "[Matthew's recent death] brings the whole thing up again."

For more details on this and other cases, see DARK DEEDS, Volume One


The media portrayed Charles and Carol as the perfect young white suburban couple. Would this case have received as much attention if Charles hadn't accused a black man of the crime? How could this handsome young man kill his pregnant wife? Unfortunately, statistics show that pregnant women are more likely to be attacked by their husbands than those who are not pregnant. We like to think that crimes like this are random, but more often than not perpetrators of violent crimes are known to their victims.

Please leave a comment and tell me what you think!


Sources: "A Boston Tragedy: The Stuart Case," NY Times, 1-15-1990

"Charles Stuart's Brother Indicted In Murder Case," NY Times, 9-27-1991

"The Forgotten Victim: The Collision of Race, Gender, and Murder," by Jeanne Theoharis and Lisa Woznica, February 1990

"Stuart Found dead in shelter," Boston Globe, 9-4-2011

"Embattled gov aide, clergy calling for racial healing," Boston Herald, 10-24-2011

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[ Posted by Sandra McLeod Humphrey, February 14, 2012 11:47 AM ]
     I guess fact IS stranger than fiction and what a difference in families! One family supports murder and conspiracy, the other family establishes a foundation to help ease racial tensions and support a good cause.

[ Posted by Myrna, February 16, 2012 8:54 AM ]
     I remember this. Saw it on TV and my gut feeling right away was that he was guilty.

[ Posted by admin, February 16, 2012 8:55 AM ]
     Too bad he fooled so many people, including the police investigators, for so long.

[ Posted by Louis Elisa, March 04, 2013 10:13 AM ]
     It is all a lie, the media never came clean and they never took repsonsibality for their role in fanning the flames of racist hatred and ignorance. Charles Stuart never said a BLACK MAN shot him. That was reported by the police deputy commander who was a racist too. Most of the lies and missinformation came from the police and the office of the Mayor Raymond Flynn who was so interested in making headlines he and the police forgot to do their jobs,
Charles did not shoot himself or his wife they were shot by his brother and his brothers friend who was never fully implicated as an accessory befor the fact.
One day someone in the media will print the ugly truth as to what happen and why Boston is still seen in a bad racial light because of it...Flynn never apologized to the Balck Community for his role in the ugly, hateful process-so the wound remains open even to this very day.
God bless the DiMiati family for what they tried to do.

[ Posted by admin, March 06, 2013 5:27 PM ]
     Louis, I appreciate comments to my blog posts. However, yours is not accurate. The 911 call in which Charles Stuart claimed a black man shot him was played over and over on radio and TV stations.

I agree that the media fanned the flames of his racist accusation. And I also agree that the DiMaiti family did a wonderful thing by setting up the scholarship foundation for worthy Mission Hill students.

[ Posted by John Barnes, August 19, 2013 10:57 PM ]
     I worked at Kakas and still cannot get over how completely Chuck lied his way through life. I guess that is what made him such a great salesperson. We would say that he could sell spots to a cheetah. Everything was a lie. I remember Chuck showing us his cell phone and not playing on a rec league basketball team because his wife had lamaze classes that night. A comprehensive, well thought out master plan carried out over years by an evil coward.

There was some information at the time that was was not based in truth but there is one thing I can tell you- Carol was one of the nicest people you could ever know.

[ Posted by admin, August 20, 2013 7:57 AM ]
     Thank you so much for your insightful comment. It does appear that certain people, like Chuck Stuart, have an ability to lie and lie and lie with a perfectly straight face, to serve their own (sometimes deadly) self-interest.


[ Posted by Melanie, October 25, 2013 7:25 PM ]
     I think of Carol & Christopher quite a bit. I'm sure Christopher would have grown into a great adult with the DiMiati family to guide him. I hope Carol & Christopher found peace in Heaven, and I hope Charles & Matthew are rotting in hell.

[ Posted by Millicent Broderick, July 27, 2014 8:30 PM ]
     Thank you for detailing this event. I was actually researching Charles Stuart, the Pretender to the English throne back in the 17th century, but got sidetracked. This other Charles Stuart(and evidently his family) was truly the heart of darkness! I am from Boston but was living in Canada when all this happened and I caught as much of it as possible, but did not know the brother died of an overdose. Rumor was that Carol's family helped him over the rail on the bridge. Your account doesn't support that turn in the story. I wonder what the Stuarts' mother was like having raised a trio of misogynists.

[ Posted by admin, July 28, 2014 5:29 PM ]
     Thanks for the comment. Yes, Charles Stuart was an evil man who committed a terrible crime, not only murdering his wife and unborn son, but also accusing an innocent black man of the crime. For a moment I was confused when you said Rumor was Carol's family helped him over the rail." thought you were referring to his brother's overdose. But now I understand. Helped Charles over the Tobin Bridge rail. I hadn't heard that rumor. I'm sure Carol's brother would have if he could. As for the Stuart family, their code of silence even when they knew Charles was guilty was unconscionable.

[ Posted by Cindy, October 24, 2016 10:11 PM ]
     Where did the rest of the money go? He got the settlement. Bought some jewelry and bought a brand new toyota.. 2 days later he jumps off the Tobin bridge. Where's the rest of the money? Were talking 80,000 dollars here. Did he stash it?

[ Posted by admin, October 26, 2016 5:22 PM ]
     Thanks for the comment, Cindy

Where did the money go? As I recall, he spent thousands of dollars on jewelry and other items for the woman he was wooing. And the new car cost, as I recall, at least $30, 000.

The police investigated him and his brother pretty thoroughly and didn't find it. In fact, his brother wound up living in a homeless shelter.

[ Posted by Dorianne Swift, December 21, 2017 8:38 PM ]
     I just started season 1 of the series about the 1980's as the deadliest decade on ID on the go. I remembered parts of this story but searched to see what had happened to the baby. Just so sad, and senseless greed and selfishness. I can't imagine the pain that Carol's family still feels with the empty places at their table, my younger son was born in 1989 and has children of his own, now. My heart goes out to them, and to Mr. Bennett. I hope no one thinks badly for his inability to speak at that anniversary memorial. Some events just leave scars that are too deep to go back over.

[ Posted by admin, December 30, 2017 1:27 PM ]
     Thanks for the comment, Dorianne. This is one of many sad stories about men who decide to get rid of their wives so they can be free to play around.

posted by SUSAN FLEET   February 11, 2012 4:15 PM  Domestic Homicide 


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