Boston Mayor Michelle Wu issues an apology for two men arrested for the Carol Stuart murder in 1989

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu issued an apology for two Black men who were arrested by police and vilified in the press for the 1989 murder of a White woman, only to learn that the brother of the killer said he murdered his wife for insurance money.

On behalf of the Boston Police Department, the entire City of Boston, the Black Community, and Boston media, Mayor Wu said on Monday: “I am sorry for what you endured; it was racist and wrong.†

Mayor Wu apologized at the same time as the HBO documentary about the murder of Carol Stuart. It is titled “Murder in Boston: Roots, Rampage & Reconking.” Jason Hehir wrote and directed the documentary.

Charles Stuart claimed that a 6-foot-tall Black man shot him, shot him, and killed his pregnant wife, Carol, during a carjacking; she delivered her baby named Christopher by cesarean section. The baby died 17 days later.

The police ran through the Black community like stormtroopers with pistols drawn in the Mission Hill neighborhood, arresting almost every Black male before settling on Alan Swanson and Willie Bennet. Police eventually ruled out Swanson as the killer after brutally beating him.

But Matthew Stuart told police that the carjacking story was a hoax, and his brother killed his wife for insurance money. Charles Stuart later committed suicide by jumping off the Tobin Bridge into the Mystic River.

Police and the media were surprised by the admission, which may have caused some soul-searching. 

Raymond Flynn was the mayor at the time Carol Stuart was murdered. Francis Roache, Boston’s Police Chief, said excesses may have been taken. Flynn was criticized for the treatment Black men suffered at the hands of the police. 

With the end of the grand jury’s investigation, Willie Bennett was officially exonerated of the murders of Carol Stuart and her son Christopher. 

But this story does not have a happy ending.

In October 1990, a jury found Bennett guilty of an alleged robbery of a Brookline video store. He was sentenced to 12 to 25 years in prison and was released in 2002.

After a lengthy lawsuit, Bennett’s family was awarded $12,500 in damages, according to the Boston Globe. As of 2023, Bennett was reportedly living alone in Boston and suffering from dementia. 

A teary-eyed Willie Bennett’s nephew, Joey Bennett, accepted Wu’s apology Wednesday on behalf of his uncle and the family of Alan Swanson. 

Joey Bennett praised her for not allowing the false arrest to be swept under the rug.