Notorious Murder of Pregnant Newlywed Carol Stuart and Racism in Boston Explored in New HBO Docuseries

Debuting Dec. 4, the three-part docuseries "Murder in Boston" explores how the murder of the 1989 pregnant lawyer sent the city into a tailspin of fear

<p>Ira Wyman/Sygma via Getty</p> Chuck and Carol Stuart

Ira Wyman/Sygma via Getty

Chuck and Carol Stuart

The frantic 911 call came in on the night of Oct. 23, 1989 in Boston.

“My wife’s been shot!” Charles “Chuck” Stuart  screamed into the phone. “I’ve been shot!”

The gunman, he said, was a Black man who ran up to their car with a silver .38 snub-nosed revolver after they’d left a childbirth class at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital. The ensuing mystery and racial firestorm that followed is the subject an upcoming HBO three-part docuseries, Murder in Boston: Roots, Rampage & Reckoning, debuting on Monday, Dec. 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. (An exclusive trailer is shown below.)

Chuck said the man got into their car and forced them to drive to Boston’s largely Black and Latino Mission Hill neighborhood, where he shot him in the stomach and fatally shot his pregnant wife, attorney Carol Stuart, in the head.

Their son, Christopher, who was prematurely delivered at seven months, died 17 days later.

Terror swept through the city as Boston police began hunting for the gunman who shot a pregnant woman at point-blank range.

<p>AP Photo/Steven Sene</p> Carol Stuart's funeral

AP Photo/Steven Sene

Carol Stuart's funeral

The fatal shooting made national news for months to come after a media firestorm erupted.

Simmering wounds in the racially-divided city — which were catalyzed by the contentious battle over the desegregation of schools and busing in 1974 — exploded to the surface. Hate crimes against Black people skyrocketed as swaths of officers searched aggressively for the killer in the largely Black and Latino neighborhood.

After zeroing in on one suspect that didn’t pan out, in December 1989, police arrested William Bennett, a Black man with a long criminal record, holding him on an unrelated charge as the city breathed a collective sigh of relief.

But was he the killer?

One reporter on the case, Michelle Caruso of the Boston Herald, had serious reservations.

“This story didn’t add up,” says Caruso, a former PEOPLE reporter who is interviewed about the sensational case in the HBO docuseries.

Caruso's instincts proved right. On Jan. 4, 1990, just months after the shooting, the case took a shocking turn when Chuck jumped to his death off the Tobin Bridge in Chelsea.

<p>AP Photo/Elise Amendola</p> Searching for Charles Stuart after he jumped off Boston's Tobin Bridge.

AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Searching for Charles Stuart after he jumped off Boston's Tobin Bridge.

He took his own life just hours after his brother, Matthew Stuart, had gone to police revealing that it was Chuck who had shot and killed Carol. Matthew thought he was helping his brother in an insurance scam when the pair threw the couple's wallets and wedding rings off a bridge in Revere shortly after the shooting.

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The motive remains unclear, after all these years. Some said Chuck was angry that Carol didn't have an abortion. He was worried that his wife wouldn’t return to her job as a lawyer after the birth of their son, lowering their income substantially. Others wondered if he had a mistress or was trying to gain financially from a life insurance payout.

In 1992, Matthew was convicted of insurance fraud and other crimes and sentenced to three to five years in prison. He was released in 1997 and in 2011, was found dead in a homeless shelter in Cambridge.

Besides shining a light on the intricacies of the case, the series also provides a fresh take on the case with interviews with those who were impacted by the saga, including residents, community leaders and other journalists who covered the case.

The series highlights how the murder rocked the city and terrorized Black residents of the Mission Hill neighborhood who endured endless raids, “stop and frisk” searches and overzealous law enforcement practices as police tried to quell the terror sweeping the city.

“They tore the house apart,” says one woman in the series.

The Boston Globe in association with HBO, is producing an original investigative podcast about the Charles Stuart story. This nine-part series will feature extensive reporting by acclaimed Globe journalists Evan Allen, Brendan McCarthy, Andrew Ryan, Elizabeth Koh, and Adrian Walker.

The first episode of the HBO three-part docuseries, Murder in Boston: Roots, Rampage & Reckoning, debuts on Monday, Dec. 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Episodes two and three air on the next two Mondays at the same time. The series will also be available to stream on Max.

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