"To read the Prologues from Danger Zone or Murder at the Front Door, click on one of the above links, for Murder Outside the Back Door, scroll Down
Danger Zone by John Tommasi on Amazon
Hi all, one good thing about the quarantine is I finished the great American novel. It is an action- adventure, detective mystery that is loosely based on my tenure working for the state of NH as an undercover operative. The action goes from NH to Florida and Jamaica to the Bolivian jungles; Enjoy! It is also available on paperback. If you click the link above, titled Danger Zone, I've posted the Prologue and Chapter 1. ps you can download it to a pc or phone with the kindle app from Amazon, it is free for Prime members.
MURDER AT THE FRONT DOOR on Amazon The true and bizarre story of the murder of Robert Cushing Sr. by off duty Hampton Police Officer Robert McLaughlin on June 1, 1989 is now available on Kindle and shortly on Paperback at Amazon
The following is an account of the murder of a popular Salem, NH school teacher by her husband in Lawrence, Massachusetts in the mid 1990’s. Except for several police officers and court officers, the names of all involved have been changed. Conversations have been recreated as accurately as possible with some artistic license, and there is significant artistic license on the musings of some individuals.The actual investigation and subsequent trial have been depicted as accurately as possible based on police reports, court records, articles from the Eagle Tribune and interviews by the author During the proof reading, some witnesses stated that a particular event didn’t happen in the manner portrayed in the book, while others stated that it was exactly the way it happened.
March 2, 1994 9:30 PM
“You had to do it now at the wake? Really? You couldn’t wait until after the funeral?” Detective Phillips continued to look Anderson directly in the eyes. “Hey Bob, if it wasn’t for you, there wouldn’t be a wake and funeral.”
February 4, 1984
George Phillips had just finished his first cup of coffee when he received a call from dispatch. “Hi Detective Phillips, there’s a couple out here with their daughter, they want to report an assault.” “Thanks Christine, I’ll be right there.” Phillips was a tall, steely blue eyed, old school cop who had been on the Salem Police Department for over fifteen years, the last five of those in detectives. He was a scrapper known for his no-nonsense approach. As Phillips entered the lobby he introduced himself. “Hello Detective Phillips. I’m Andrew MacGregor, this is my wife Linda, and daughter Cindy. Is there somewhere we can go talk?” “Yes, please follow me.” Phillips led them into the station and a private interview room. He then motioned everyone to sit down. He noticed that Cindy was a very tall pretty brunette with long hair and looked very much like her mother. “The dispatcher told me that this was concerning an assault.” “Yes, an assault on my daughter Cindy by that sonofabitch Richard Ferguson at the High School. He’s lucky I don’t go down there and...” He didn’t finish the sentence. Phillips was taken aback. He knew Richard Ferguson. He was the Athletic Director at Salem High School and taught Physical Education. He was also the gymnastics coach. In addition, he was the president of the local Kiwanis and a Key Club contributor at the High School. “Richard Ferguson, the Athletic director?” Phillips asked sounding somewhat incredulous. “Yea that’s him.” Phillips sat back in his chair and then turned towards Cindy. “Okay Cindy, please tell me what happened and I’ll be taking notes as you do.” Cindy MacGregor related the following story: She told Phillips that she was a senior at Salem High and one of the cheerleader captains. She was walking to class after the first bell yesterday when Ferguson asked her if she could drop by his office during lunch. Cindy was surprised that Ferguson knew she had the first lunch period at 10:30. She said that she could. “When I dropped by his office, he told me that he was thinking of changing the uniforms for the cheerleaders and he asked me if I would mind trying on an old uniform. I told him not at all and I went to the girl’s locker room which was right next to his office. After I put on the uniform he just walked in to the locker room. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was waiting at the door looking in.” Phillips interjected at this point. “Cindy, was there anyone else in the locker room?” “No, I was the only one.” “Alright, what happened next?” “Well, he was looking at me and it was kind of creepy. After a while he asked me how I liked it and I said it was okay. He then came over and told me that he wanted to make sure that everything was covered up. He then asked me to turn around and then that’s when he grabbed my skirt and lifted it above my waist.” “What did you do?” Phillips asked. “I slapped his hand away and asked what he was doing. He told me that he just want to see what the dolly looked like? Those are the shorts we wear under the skirt,” Cindy said when she saw the questioning look on Phillips face. “Thanks Cindy. What happened next? “I told him that I wasn’t comfortable and I wanted to change back into my clothes and go to class. I told him to get out.” “What did he do then Cindy?” “He left and he told me not to be upset, he just wanted to make sure everything was covered and he left.” “Did you tell anyone else about this?” “Yes my boyfriend and a couple of my best friends.” Phillips was pensive for a few moments while looking over his notes. “Alright Cindy, there is enough here to charge Mr. Ferguson with simple assault, but it makes it harder if there weren’t any witnesses, especially if he gives a different version.” “Detective I believe my daughter implicitly,” Andrew said starting to get heated. “Mr. MacGregor, I have no problem charging Ferguson. The problem is proving it in court beyond a reasonable doubt.” After a moment’s hesitation Cindy’s father said, “How about a polygraph?” “I’d be amazed if Ferguson would take one,” Phillips said. “No, I mean my daughter. How about if my daughter took a polygraph?” “That would certainly help, but they’re not always admissible in court,” Phillips said. Cindy then spoke up, “I would be fine with a polygraph.” Phillips looked at the family members and then spoke, “I’m going to interview Ferguson and we’ll take it from there. Once I speak to him, I’ll call you Mr. MacGregor.” “Thanks Detective, much appreciated.”
When Phillips went back to detectives he told his Lieutenant, Bob Kohler what just transpired. “You’re shitting me. Do you know besides being the Athletic Director, he’s the president of the Kiwanis and he’s scheduled to present Paul Marchand with the Police Officer of the year award at a ceremony in late June?” “What do you want me to do Bob.” “We have to let the Chief know, shit, he’s in the Kiwanis too, and then we have to set up an interview with Ferguson. Take George Winchell with you during the interview.” “Will do.”
The interview with Ferguson was set for the following Monday at 5 PM. This was to accommodate Ferguson’s school day and gymnastics practice after school. Ferguson was known to both Winchell and Phillips and Ferguson knew the detectives. After they were seated in the interview room, Phillips asked the first question. “Richard, do you know why we’re here?” “I don’t have the slightest idea.” “There’s been a misdemeanor sexual assault charge brought against you by a cheerleader, Cindy MacGregor. She told us that you asked her to try on an old cheerleader’s uniform, and then you walked into the girl’s locker room, where she was the only person in there, and lifted her skirt above her waist. Is this true?” “She said what?” Ferguson asked incredulously. Phillips repeated himself. “That’s ridiculous. The only part about that which is true is I did ask her to try on a cheerleaders outfit. We were thinking of changing them so they wouldn’t be so revealing.” “Did you go into the girl’s locker room?” “I did, but only after I asked if I could come in and if everyone was decent, and we weren’t the only people in there. There were two other girls in the locker room.” “Do you know who they were?” “No I don’t.” “So there were no witnesses.” “This is ridiculous. I can’t believe I’m being accused of this. I’ve never had anything like this happen to me before. Where are you going with this?” Ferguson asked while visibly upset. “Where we’re going is an investigation of an alleged sexual assault. If there’s no evidence, it won’t go anywhere.” “Dick, would you mind filling out a voluntary form telling us what happened?” Winchell asked. After thinking for a moment, Ferguson said, “I’m not doing anything else until I talk to my lawyer. This is over.” After Winchell walked Ferguson to the door, he and Phillips met back in detectives. “What do you think?” Phillips asked. “It’s going to be tough. It’s a ‘he said, she said’ and unless there’s any other evidence, I suspect this will go nowhere in court. What are you thinking George?” “Well, Cindy is going to take a polygraph. We’ll make some decisions after that.” The next morning, Richard Ferguson called his lawyer, John Macoul, a prominent lawyer in Salem, NH who was known for his proclivity of getting not guilty verdicts for his clients. Even though he was often on the opposite side of police officers in court, he was well liked and respected by the Salem officers. On Tuesday morning, Phillips was bringing Lieutenant Kohler up to date on what transpired with Ferguson when he received a call from John Macoul. Macoul told him he was representing Richard Ferguson and all further communication with Richard Ferguson was to go through him. “Who was that on the phone?” Bob Kohler asked. “John Macoul, Ferguson retained him as a lawyer and John was telling me that anything we want to say to Ferguson or ask him, has to go through him.” “He got Macoul, damn he’s good. Are you still planning on a polygraph for the MacGregor girl?” “Yea, I have it scheduled for next week with George Tetreault of the Rockingham County Sheriff’s office. We’ll see what happens if she passes.”
“Well how she’d do?” Bob Kohler asked. “She passed with flying colors. The polygrapher said there was absolutely no deception in her answers,” Phillips answered “What do you want to do?” Kohler asked. “I think we have enough to charge him and I think we should. I spoke to Johnny Bates the juvenile officer, and he told me he’s had reports that a lot of the girls at the high school really don’t like Ferguson and many referred to him as weird and touchy. He also heard stories that he had assaulted two other girls in a similar fashion to Cindy MacGregor, but the girls didn’t want to come forward. I want to charge him Bob.” After a moment’s thought Kohler said, “Give Macoul a call. Let’s call Ferguson in and see if he changes his story.”
It was Tuesday, February 14 when John Macoul accompanied Ferguson into the police station at 10 AM. It was February vacation week for New Hampshire schools. Macoul began, “Why are we here? I would like to think we’re here so you can apologize to my client after these allegations were made to an outstanding and respected citizen of the community.” Bob Kohler spoke up, “Hardly John, Cindy MacGregor passed the polygraph with no hint of deception. Here’s a list of the questions she was asked and the answers, and also George Tetreault’s report. We were wondering if your client would be willing to take a polygraph too.” “I don’t believe in giving innocent people a polygraph. Besides, we won’t agree to the admissibility of this in court, especially when it’s given by someone who can be biased in your favor.” “Alright John, why don’t you give her a polygraph with an individual of your choosing. Besides, I think we can get Judge Marshall to admit the results of the polygraph,” Phillips said. “Good luck on that, besides, we would never agree to the admissibility of the polygraph,” Macoul answered, and after a moment’s thought said, “If you don’t mind, I’d like a few minutes with Richard alone.” “Not at all. We’ll be outside. Call when you’re ready.” When Phillips and Kohler were beckoned back in the room, they were surprised with what they heard from Macoul. “I’d like to give Cindy MacGregor a polygraph with an examiner of my choosing.” “That’s not a problem with us, but we’ll have to talk to her father and Cindy first. We’re viewing her as a victim and she’s going through a lot. If we do agree, I’d want Phillips to be present prior to the actual test,” Kohler said. “That’s not a problem,” Macoul answered. “Let me know.” Authors note. Polygraphs are rarely admitted in court unless: (1) the parties stipulate to admissibility in advance of the test; or (2) when the polygraph results are used to impeach or corroborate the testimony of a witness. In the latter circumstance, the party seeking to introduce the polygraph results must provide adequate notice to the opposing party; the opposing party must be given adequate opportunity to have its own polygraph expert administer a test covering substantially the same questions; and the evidence must be admissible under the rules governing corroboration or impeachment.
Both Cindy and her parents agreed to the second polygraph with Cindy’s father and detective Phillips present. She once again passed the polygraph with no deception indicated. On Friday, March 2, Phillips, Winchell, Lieutenant Kohler and the Chief of Police had a meeting. At this meeting, Phillips stated that the MacGregor’s were willing to go ahead with a trial and wanted Ferguson arrested even in spite of Phillips telling Cindy’s father that it would be difficult for Cindy. They still insisted. “What do you think George,” the Chief asked, “did he do it?” “There’s no doubt in my mind.” Both Kohler and Winchell agreed. “Okay, I don’t like it, but the girl passed two polygraphs. Do you think we can get that admitted in court?” “The only chance we have is if Macoul calls Ferguson as a witness and we can probably have the results admitted to contradict his testimony.” “Alright go with it.” An arrest warrant was signed by the clerk of courts and Ferguson was arrested on Monday March 12. The Chief of Police called Attorney Macoul and Ferguson turned himself in that night. He was released on PR (personal recognizance) bail. Authors note: Richard Ferguson’s arrest did not make any of the local papers. When the author was researching the arrest, the entire arrest report was missing from the 1984 microfiche records. There was also no record of the arrest in the formal police log. This could have been caused by someone of authority “pulling” the records or by the records being misfiled.
Even though there were no articles in the local papers, it didn’t take long for the news to spread throughout the school and the community. Ferguson had applied for the position of principal of Merrimack, NH High School and the news reached them too. There was no public mention of Ferguson’s arrest until there was an article in the Salem Observer on May 4th. The article indicated that Ferguson was to face charges for simple assault. It also stated that Police alleged the unprivileged touching of a female student by Ferguson, however, no additional information was given beyond that. Court was set for June 6th, in Hampton, NH District Court. John Macoul had requested a change of venue which was granted. In addition, there was a petition circulated around Salem High School which was signed by nearly four hundred students in support of Ferguson. There was also a half page ad placed in the Salem Observer. The petition and ad read: We the undersigned students at Salem High School wish to come to the aid of a teacher and good friend, Mr. Bob Anderson. As Athletic Director and Physical Education teacher, “Andy” has in some way touched all of our lives. He has indeed helped the quality of our education and has brought spirit to our school. For this, we are all very grateful. The students who brought the petition to the Observer stated that the signatures of the students in the ad were not a judgement of guilt or innocence, but merely a show of support for a popular teacher. When the Observer reached out to Ferguson, he said that he was “without words for the show of support and student backing” he received. He declined comment on the case until after the court appearance. The Observer also contacted the Superintendent of Salem Schools, Paul Johnson. Johnson stated that he would not comment on the findings of an internal investigation conducted by the district. He also stated, “That is a touchy subject and a very personnel matter, and I don’t want to make any statements that would injure either party.” Johnson also said he was unaware of the petition circulated by the students and could not make a statement regarding it.
Salem Athletic Director Found Innocent was the headline of the June 13th edition of the Salem Observer. The trial lasted three days and was in Hampton, NH District Court which was presided over by Judge Francis “Whitey” Frazier. Like Judge Bob Marshall of Salem, Judge Frazier was highly liked and respected by the Hampton Police. In a criminal trial, the prosecution has to give the defense all its evidence and list of witnesses that it is going to present at the trial, especially evidence that is exculpatory in nature. This is called discovery. The defense can also depose these witnesses. A deposition is used to gather information as part of the discovery process and, in limited circumstances, may be used at trial to impeach a witness’s testimony. Unlike the prosecution, the only thing that the defense has to present is a list of its witnesses that could provide an alibi. As a result, the prosecution was faced with a number of witnesses that presented them with significant surprises. In a trial of this nature, the defense has the option of a jury trial or allowing the sitting magistrate to determine guilt or innocence. The defense chose to do the latter. Conventional Lawyer wisdom often points to choosing a jury if a case has emotional appeal, and choosing a judge if a case is complex and based on technical legal questions. In his opening statement, Attorney Macoul told Judge Frazier he thought that the girl had made up the story to make her boyfriend, Tim Brady jealous, and once the story mushroomed, neither had any control of the situation. To back up this claim, Macoul presented a former boyfriend of Cindy MacGregor who not only testified that she tried to make him jealous on multiple occasions, but that a friend of Cindy MacGregor told him that the cheerleaders were upset with Ferguson and were spreading rumors. This hearsay testimony was allowed into evidence over the objections of the prosecution. Ferguson was the second witness that Macoul called who refuted all of MacGregor’s accusations. There was another surprise to the prosecution when Ferguson testified that MacGregor’s current boyfriend, Tim Brady, came into Ferguson’s office the next day and attempted to “shake down” Ferguson. Ferguson alleged that Bates stated “what would it be worth to you for us not to cause problems.” Ferguson also testified that there were other girls in the locker room. After Brady was called the following day to the stand to refute Ferguson’s testimony concerning his “shakedown,” Macoul had another surprise when he called Sean Cox to the stand. Cox was the High School’s Athletic Trainer who was appointed to the position the previous year. He testified that since his office was next to Ferguson’s, he heard the entire conversation between Brady and Ferguson, including the alleged “shakedown.” When asked by the prosecution, Cox confirmed that Ferguson was his immediate supervisor and Ferguson was the person responsible for his performance evaluations. Macoul’s last witnesses were Pat Corbin, the high school principal, and Pat Johnson, the superintendent of schools. They appeared as character witnesses for Ferguson. Both stated that he was a dedicated teacher and always put students first, and that they could never picture him doing what he was accused of doing. In his closing statement, Macoul asked, “Should any teacher have to fear being alone with a student. Richard Ferguson’s life and career have been ruined by mere allegations.” Judge Frasier found Ferguson not guilty.
In an interview after the trial, Ferguson stated that it’s good to see that the system works but I still didn’t understand how it got so far (to trial). “It’s a shame that my family had to go through this.” He also said that he “wanted to thank the Salem High faculty, students, as well as the town for their support throughout this ordeal. Without that, I wouldn’t have been able to go through it.” Helen Ferguson was quoted as saying, “That girl put my husband through hell.” She stood beside her husband throughout the trial and was always very supportive.
Ferguson was dropped from consideration for the principal of Merrimack High, and after the school year, Ferguson “retired” from teaching and went into the cleaning business. He eventually purchased four ServiceMaster franchises. There was no doubt in the mind of George Phillips that Ferguson was guilty, and some officers speculated as to whether Ferguson put Cox up to confirming his testimony concerning Tim Brady “shaking” him down.
October 23 1989 8:30 PM
“I need help, my wife’s been shot. I’ve been shot. I’m calling from my car phone” “Where are you sir?” answered Mass state police dispatcher Gary McLaughlin. “I have no idea. We’re coming from Brigham & Women’s hospital. We were somewhere on Tremont street.” Sergeant Dan Grabowski picked up two phones. The first was an extension line which allowed him to listen in on McLaughlin’s call, and a hot line to Boston Police. Boston police officer, Brian Cunningham, was advised of the situation by Grabowski while McLaughlin continued to ask Stuart questions. “Sir, where are you now? Can you indicate that to me?” “I don’t know, I don’t know. I’m in a neighborhood. It looks like an abandoned area. I’m Chuck Stuart and my wife Carol has been shot bad. She’s gurgling.” “Can you tell me where you are? “I don’t know, I can’t see any signs.” “Are you near Brigham & Women’s hospital?” “No we went straight through …” “What kind of car do you have sir?” “Toyota Cressida.” “Are you in the city of Boston?” “Yes.” “Can you give me any indication where you may be, any building?” “No.” “Okay, has your wife been shot as well?” “Yes, in the head.” “In the head.” “Yea, I ducked down.” “How far and how long ago did you leave Brigham and Women’s and what direction did you leave?” “Two, three minutes.” Dispatcher McLaughlin then relayed this to Sergeant Grabowski who was still on the hotline to Boston Dispatch. McLaughlin then turned his attention back to the caller. “What’s your name sir?” “Stuart, Chuck Stuart. Should I try to drive up to the corner of the street?” “Yes sir, if you can drive without hurting yourself. If you can, give me a cross street and I’ll get someone there immediately.” “Okay, I got it started. I’m coming up the street, I can’t read the sign.” “Okay Chuck, hang in there. What color is your car?” “Blue Toyota Cressida.” “Is your wife breathing Chuck?” “She’s still gurgling. There’s a busy street up ahead. I’m turning on to a busy street now. I recognize where I am. Should I drive to the hospital?” “Just tell me what the street is Chuck.” “Ah man. I’m pulling over. It’s Tremont Street.” McLaughlin relayed that to Grabowski who continued to relay it to Boston PD. The Stuarts were on Tremont Street about three minutes from Brigham & Women’s hospital. Boston Police in turn dispatched four units to the area and two ambulances to stage nearby. “Chuck, where are you buddy, Tremont Street and what? Chuck, Chuck, can you hear me?” “Yea, I’m on Tremont Street in front of K….” “K what Chuck. Chuck you have to help me buddy and we’ll get assistance to you right away.” “Chuck, can you hear me?” “Ah man, I’m going to pass out.” “Chuck, can you open the door? Can you open the Window?” “I’m blacking out.” “You can’t black out on me. I need you man.” “My wife has stopped gurgling, she’s stopped breathing.” “Chuck, I’m going to get assistance to you. Open the door. Talk to someone on the street. Open the door and talk to anyone who passes by.” After a thirty second pause, “There’s no one by here.” “Chuck, Chuck, where are you shot?” McLaughlin then turned to Grabowski, “He’s faded out, we’re getting nothing at all. I’m hearing breathing and some body movement, but he’s unresponsive.” The above conversation between the State Police dispatcher and Stuart took slightly less than five minutes. Fortuitously, within another minute, Boston Police located the Stuarts. On the night that the Stuarts were shot, the television show narrated by William Shatner, Rescue 911, was doing a ride along with the Boston Medical Services. Along with multiple cruisers that reached the scene, the ambulance that had the Rescue 911 film crew was the second one on the scene, and was able to get actual footage of the Stuarts being treated and placed in the ambulances. The first two medics on the scene were Dan Hickey and Kevin Ray. Hickey began working on Carol Stuart while Ray started working on Charles Stuart. They saw that Carol was in cardiac arrest and Charles was somewhat lucid. Carol was immediately placed in the ambulance, and they were able to get her heart beating again while attaching an intravenous drip. As Charles was being carried to the ambulance he kept asking about the condition of his wife and imploring medics to take care of his wife. Once Charles Stuart was in the ambulance a police officer, who was helping to carry the stretcher asked, “Who did this? Did you see who did this?” “A black man.” “One guy, two guys?” “One guy.” “What he’d look like. What did he have on for clothing?” “A black jogging suit.” “Did he have any stripes on it?” “Yea, red stripes. He was tall and had a raspy voice.” “Did he have a mustache or beard?” “I don’t remember.” Author’s note: The above conversation came from the Rescue 911 episode which is available on YouTube.
Carol was transported to the Brigham & Women’s hospital and Charles was transported to Boston City hospital. While enroute to Brigham’s, medics contacted the hospital and advised them that thirty year old Carol was pregnant, and in order to save the baby, an emergency Cesarean would have to be performed. The baby boy was delivered at Brigham’s and Women’s eight weeks premature. Charles and Carol had just been at Brigham’s attending a child birthing class. Doctors and nurses were able to keep Carol alive through the operation, however, she died two hours later. The baby, Christopher, lived for seventeen days before dying from oxygen deprivation he suffered while in the womb. While he was at City Hospital, twenty nine year old Charles Stuart kept asking about his wife. Doctor James Feldman described Charles injuries as very serious and life threatening. He had a gunshot wound that exited his body. Stuart had significant internal bleeding and part of his liver was removed. After the six hour operation, he was in stable, but guarded, condition.
In the days after the shooting, the police dispatchers and personnel were inundated with praise. Mike Dukakis, the governor of Massachusetts at the time, made a personal visit to the dispatchers and handed out commendations and accolades. Four days later, hundreds of mourners attended Carol’s funeral including Charles’ brothers, Mathew and Michael. Charles was still in the hospital but a eulogy written by Charles in the hospital, was read at the funeral. It began with, “Goodnight sweet Carol my love. God has called you into his hands, not to take you away from me but to take you away from the cruelty and violence that fills this world. We must forgive this sinner who did this to you, because God would too ... I miss and love you, your husband Chuck.” After Carol’s funeral, all attention was directed to the Boston Police and pressure mounted to find Carol’s killer. The motive for the killing was attributed to robbery since all of Carol’s jewelry and pocketbook were missing. As one police spokesman put it, “This violence is an all too common occurrence in Boston, especially the Mission Hill district where it occurred.” Mission Hill is a ¾ square mile, primarily residential neighborhood of Boston that borders Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Brookline and Fenway-Kenmore. It is home to several hospitals and universities, including Brigham and Women's Hospital and New England Baptist. It was known for its brick row houses, triple decker homes and high crime rate. In the days that followed, the Mission Hill neighborhood was flooded with uniformed Police Officers and detectives. Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn issued a statement calling for a massive manhunt for the alleged killer. He ordered more than 100 extra police officers to comb not only Mission Hill, but adjacent neighborhoods, Roxbury and Jamaica Plain which had significant black populations. Ray Flynn also went on television stating that “The Boston Police would get the animal responsible for the killings.” Skirmish lines were formed through vacant lots to find the murder weapon or any other evidence pertaining to the crime. Dumpsters and roofs were searched, all to no avail. Informants were squeezed and there were numerous complaints from black residents concerning the tactics of the Boston Police who were doing routine stop and frisks of anyone in the neighborhoods. According to the Washington Post, one resident, Frederick Jones, said it was like a police riot. Jones said in a phone interview that he saw dozens of young and middle-aged men stopped and searched that fall. The Post went on to say that “Playing to a fearful public, some officials began calling for the return of the death penalty in Massachusetts.” Many in the media compared the case to the Central Park attack six months earlier in New York, where five black youths were indicted in the rape of a white female jogger. Despite this, nothing was learned, and other critics of the police said they weren’t doing enough. Five days after the murder, police arrested Alan Swanson, a homeless man they found squatting in an abandoned Mission Hill vacant building. At best, their evidence was circumstantial. He was six feet, had a raspy voice and they found a black jogging suit soaking in a pan of water. Despite the arrest, police still flooded the neighborhoods and the stop and frisks continued. Swanson was subsequently released on November 20th. Finally, on December 28th, Charles Stuart identified Willie Bennett in a line up. Bennett had a long record and was known as a “frequent flyer” amongst police. He was currently on parole and probation for the 1974 shooting of a police officer in Boston. He was also previously convicted of armed robbery. However, on January 3rd, the shoe dropped. Twenty three year old Mathew Stuart, Chuck’s youngest brother, approached police and told them that Charles committed the murder and he thought the reason was insurance fraud. He stated through his lawyer that he didn’t think it was right that Charles would accuse an innocent man. It appears that Charles called his brother from Brigham & Women’s hospital the night of the murder and told him to meet him in the Mission Hill neighborhood, which he did. After Chuck shot his wife and then himself, he gave Mathew, Carol’s jewelry, pocketbook, and the gun, a .38-caliber revolver, he used in the murder, and told him to get rid of them. Mathew, reportedly, threw the pocketbook with the jewelry and gun in it off the Pines River Bridge in Revere. Police divers subsequently found Carol Stuarts bag and some jewelry, but not the murder weapon. Police then contacted the district attorney, Newman Flanagan, and at a subsequent press conference, Flanagan announced that he had instructed Boston Police to arrest Charles Stuart based on Mathew Stuarts confession. Obviously, the black community was outraged. Black Boston City Councilor Bruce Bolling stated that “The case did not go forward in the manner that it should have. Boston Police were too preoccupied with the story that Charles Stuart gave which is now a total fabrication, and because of that, hundreds of black males were harassed and demeaned.” Miles O’Brien, a Boston news reporter, stated that “the black community felt that Willie Bennett had been used in a very insidious way. The police believed the story because Charles Stuart was a victim and was seriously shot.” Mayor Flynn publicly apologized to the Bennett family.
The following morning at 7 AM, police found Charles Stuart’s car abandoned on the lower deck of the Tobin Bridge which has a two mile span that connects Boston and Chelsea. The lower deck is one hundred forty feet above the water. Later that day, Boston Police fished Charles Stuart’s body out of the icy waters of the Mystic River. A handwritten suicide note was found in Stuart’s car that stated “I’m beaten by these new allegations and I’m sapped of all strength.” There were less than twenty people at his wake and funeral.
The Stuart case was far from over. Police delved into Stuart’s background to look for possible motives. It was learned that Stuart was obsessed with money. He was the manager of an upscale furrier, Kakas & Sons, located on prestigious Newbury Street in Boston’s Back Bay. His salary was over $90,000. He had told friends and families that he wished Carol had gotten an abortion. He wasn’t ready to be a father and wasn’t happy with the loss of money they would incur, since Carol was planning on taking three months off from work after the baby was born. Carol DiMaiti Stuart was a very successful tax attorney from a very proud and old fashioned Italian family. The Stuarts lived in Reading, north of Boston, and Carrol’s parents resided in Medford. Her parents owned Sonny’s Pizza & Subs in Chelsea. Charles Stuart, according to family and friends, was concerned with the monetary loss, and by murdering Carol, not only would he be rid of the baby he didn’t want, but would receive a $100,000 payment from Carol’s life insurance policy. In 2022 dollars, that would be approximately $220,000. It was also reported that Charles was having an affair with Deborah Anderson (pseudonym), an employee he managed at Kaskas & Sons. Deborah admitted to being a friend of Charles Stuart, but denied any extramarital affair. The police later learned that the murder weapon, a .38-caliber revolver, was stolen by Charles Stuart from Kaskas & Sons. George Kaskas Jr, said he forgot that the gun was in the store and checked to see where it was after Charles Stuart’s suicide. In October of 1992, the DiMaiti’s filed a civil suit against the furrier citing: “Stuart had tried but failed to obtain a gun elsewhere in the days before the shooting, and took the gun from the Kaskas fur store only because he knew that the gun was not likely to be missed due to the defendant's lax and careless handling of it.” The suit was filed in Suffolk County Superior Court by the victim's parents, Giusto and Evelyn DiMaiti, and her brother, Carl DiMaiti. The suit was subsequently settled for an undisclosed amount and the proceeds went towards the Carol DiMaiti scholarship fund. Twenty three year old Mathew Stuart was indicted by a Grand Jury later that year for insurance fraud and obstruction of justice. After being released on bail, he plead guilty to the charges the following year and received a sentence of three-to-five years. He was paroled in 1995.
On January 25 Carol’s parents, Evelyn and Giusto DiMaiti, announced the formation of the Carol DiMaiti scholarship fund for residents of Mission Hill and Medford in Carol’s name. By 2005, over $1 million dollars had been given to over 200 students. In 2005, Season 1, episode 5 of the TV series Law & Order, was titled “Happily Ever After,” and was based on the murder of Carol Stuart by Charles. Baby Christopher was buried with Carol and the grave stone reads Carol and Christopher DiMaiti.
Willie Bennett was released from jail after Mathew Stuart’s confession. He was arrested later that year for the armed robbery of a double amputee. He was found guilty and was sentenced 12 to 25 years in prison. In 1995, while in jail, he sued the Boston Police for false arrest during the Stuart case. There was no culpability found on the part of the Boston Police and Bennett received nothing. On October 23, 2017, twenty eight years after the murder of Carol Stuart, Willie Bennett was interviewed by Cheryl Fiandaca of WBZ news, a CBS subsidiary. At 67, he used a cane to walk to alleviate a significant limp. He stated that even now he still gets chills when he hears Charles Stuarts name and if Stuart was still alive, he would punch him in the mouth for what he did to him. Bennett stated he wasn’t surprised that he was arrested because he had a reputation in the projects of being a “wild one,” and he admitted that he was one in his past. By 2017, he was in prison half his life and he stated that he wasn’t going to do any more “silly shit” but just enjoy his children and grandchildren. During the interview, Bennett wore a black jogging suit with red stripes.
There is a widely held conspiracy theory that Charles Stuart loved himself too much to commit suicide. The conspiracy revolves around “the belief on the streets” that the DiMaiti’s were “connected” and several wise guys forced themselves into Charles Stuart’s residence on the night of January 3rd, coerced him to write a suicide note, and after the note was written, drowned him in the toilet bowl of his apartment. They subsequently drove his car to the lower deck of the Tobin Bridge where they threw his lifeless body into the icy January waters of the Mystic River. Authors note: There is absolutely no evidence to support the above conspiracy theory.It is unknown if the coroner tested the water in Charles Stuart’s lungs to see if it was fresh water from a toilet bowl or the brackish water of the Mystic River.
The Stuart murder case not only received national attention, but also was run in some international newspapers. It is often mentioned by instructors at one of the three Massachusetts police academies as an investigative case example. Police recruits weren’t the only ones who studied the Stuart murder case. Robert Anderson took note of what he thought Stuart did right and what led him to being caught. Anderson certainly wasn’t going to ever shoot himself, and he would never have told anyone. He did like the way Stuart had blamed the murder of his wife on the violence that was prevalent in Mission Hill and the surrounding area. Author’s note: The above musings of Robert Anderson is speculation on behalf of the author and a number of other officers.
Wendy Jack considered herself lucky. She had been friends with Bob and Amy Anderson since their student teaching days in 1975. It had been a stressful year, her father, who was living with her and her husband, had recently died and she was the executor or the estate. She and her husband were on vacation for two weeks in Florida decompressing and she was very comfortable with having Bob Anderson check the house when they were gone. She had given him a key and was confident that if anything went wrong, like a burst pipe, Bob would take care of it. Nothing went awry while she was on vacation and everything was in order when she and her husband arrived home. She had forgotten all about her Dad’s .25-caliber gun that he kept in the draw of his nightstand.
Blog Topics 2020
January An Impeachment Primer February The Coronavirus and the Market. March/April Balanced Budget and Term limits May The Cost of the Quarantine and Recovery
Blog Topics 2019
March The Burgeoning US Debt May China, Trade and Tariffs June Income taxes: Obama v Trump July/Aug The China Threat Sept/Oct The High Cost of College: Part 1
Blog Topics 2018
January What Kills Bull Markets May Are Cheap Oil Prices here to Stay July California and Mandatory Solar Panels August Tariffs and Trade September Is a Recession coming? November Increasing Healthcare Costs December The Oracle of Omaha
Blog Topics 2017
January Trumponomics Part 2 February The Keystone Pipeline Revisited March Border Adjustment Tax April Are Liberal Prof's..... May Moral Hazard Through a Libertarian's Lens (guest blog from a student) July What's causing the Opioid Crisis September The minimum Wage re-visited November Everything You Want to Know about 401K December How The New Tax Bill Affects you (spoiler alert: the middle class makes out great)
blog topics for 2013 - 2016 are at page bottom
Minimum Wage Commentary
In the new Covid Relief Bill there is a provision for a required $15 minimum wage nation wide. Minimum wage should be left to the individual states. A Federally mandated minimum wage for all states is stupidity personified given the following: The attached map shows cost of living by state for a market basket of goods that on the average, nationwide, cost $100. The interpretation is a follows: That market basket of goods would cost $139.10 in New York, and $151.70 in Calif. As you can see, the cost of living is 51,7% higher in Calif, the most expensive state, than the national average; however In Mississippi, it would only cost $86.10. If you do the math, the cost of living is 76.2% high in California than Mississippi Even if you compare Calif and NH, the cost of living in Calif is 38.2% higher than NH As a result, I feel that a one-size-fits-all federally mandated minimum wage is ludicrous and it should be left up to the individual states.
Economy and the Dow
Click to Enlarge
As you can see from the attached charts, the stock market mirrors the American Economy, and granted, there are bumps in the road but both ALWAYS recover. Stop checking your retirement accounts and do nothing. You, and believe or not, even me (yes I am making fun of myself), cannot time the market, but it will recover. Today the Dow dropped 10%, 2352 points, which is the worst point drop ever and the largest point drop since Black Monday in 1987 where it dropped over 23%; and this drop occurred in spite of the FED announcing that it would inject up to $1 trillion into the economy. Once again, there are no rational expectations in the market, just hysteria and the hysteria will eventually diminish.
The wealth effect is an increase in consumption (and accompanying decrease in savings) as a result of an individuals assets (usually a portfolio or land/home) increasing in value. A negative wealth effect is just the opposite, and since most indexes declined more than 10% and tested bear market territory, this appears to be the case. Conversely, the market recovered in January and all losses and more were covered.
FICO SCORES Fair Isaac Company reports that it's FICO scores (FICO being an acronym for Fair Isaac Co) reports that the average FICO score in the US has reached an all time high of 700 nationwide amongst adults. The share of consumers who are viewed as the riskiest from a credit perspective (these are sub-prime and have a score lower than 640) reached a new low of about 40 million — or 20 percent of adults in the U.S. that have FICO scores. according to the Wall St Journal. A lot of you may be asking what is a FICO score, how is it calculated and how it affects me. Fair Isaac uses use information provided by one of the three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian or Trans-Union. From this, they have a formula to get a credit score which can be as high as 850. The biggest part is your payment history, followed by how much you owe, credit history, credit mix and new credit (see chart). Next, how do you interpret your FICO Score: anything > 800 is excellent (and gets you low interest rates on loans and credit cards), 740-799 is very good, 670-739 is good, and anything less than 670 is considered not good and sub-prime (chart). Lastly, as no surprise, the older you are, the better your score (chart)
Strangulation by Regulation: The tax code is 77,000 pages, under Obama there were 4000 new EPA regulations (info from CBS) Dodd-Frank imposed somewhere between 310-500 new requirements on banks(various analysts CNBC) and Obamacare has over 20,000 pages of regulations (Washington Post); and people are complaining because Trump is trying to streamline government. He has signed the "2 for 1" executive order that mandates all agencies to do away with 2 regulations for every one they pass. I can run my life and spend my money, much better than the government and I applaud Trump's efforts in doing away with economically ruinous legislation.
UNH Study Results 5-31-2016
In other News: First, a little history. In 1800, 90% of the adult population were farmers (lots of factory child labor), by 1900, 25% of the population and currently, about 2% as a result of technology garnering greater yield/acre. As a result much farmland from the 19th century is no longer. In a recent study out of UNH, it was found that 75% of the farmland from the mid 19th century is now covered by trees and this is contributing to warmer winters. Trees causing higher temperatures you say; how is this possible? It is very simple physics. In the winter in NH (and most other states), farm pastures are covered with snow, and this reflects sunlight, and heat, into space. Now that 75% of these pastures are covered with trees, the dark trees absorb the heat and it permeates into the atmosphere causing a general warming and milder winters. If you've ever wondered what a stone wall was doing in the middle of the woods, those woods were once pastures and delineated borders that contained live stock.
Just as a reminder from my blog of October 2013, Carbon dioxide composes only .0387% of our atmosphere (in decimal form that’s .000387), and of all the CO2 currently being produced on the earth, man only accounts for 3.4% (.034 in decimals). Therefore, if you want to calculate the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere caused by man, you would multiply .034 x .000387 to get .0000131 or .00131%.
The Arctic ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consulafft, at Bergen, Norway.
Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared.
Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds.
I apologize, I neglected to mention that this report was from November 2, 1922. As reported by the AP and published in The Washington Post — 96 years ago! The text in the above example is a genuine transcription of a 1922 newspaper article, an Associated Press account which appeared on page 2 of the Washington Post on 2 November of that year
Commentary on Minimum Wage
The main argument concerning minimum wage is that it will help to alleviate poverty. That is clearly not the case. As you can see from the chart at the left, the poverty rate dropped dramatically in the 1960's. This was a function of great society legislation; specifically, increase in Social Security benefits in addition to the inception and implementation of Medicare and Medicaid. Since then, the poverty rate has fluctuated between 9-15% and is highly correlated with the unemployment rate. The vertical grey area's in the graph represent periods of recessions in the US. As can be expected, unemployment rises during recessions and peaks at the end (unemployment is said to be a lagging indicator). As you can also see from the chart, so too does the poverty rate. There is no indication whatsoever that the poverty rate is affected by increases in the minimum wage. Generally, this is quite the contrary. As can be evidenced from the below left chart, increases in minimum wage can contribute to unemployment and as we can infer from the above chart, as unemployment increases so to does poverty. If you look at NH, they have the lowest state poverty rate in the nation and it generally parallels the national unemployment rate. By raising the minimum wage, you increase business costs. As a result; businesses either pass these costs onto the consumer (in which case inflation nullifies any wage increase), substitute capital for labor, or simply go out of business. If you look at the chart below right, UAW (United Auto Workers) membership has decreased in the late 1970's from 1.5 million to 350,000 in 2009. The reason for this is simple. Detroit isn't making fewer cars, they are making more, but they have made their assembly lines more robotic and have substituted capital for labor, which became cheaper in the long run. This can also happen to those fast food workers who want a $15 minimum wage. There is currently a machine on the market that can make 300 burgers/hour. In other words, capital can be substituted for labor. Someone please e-mail me and explain how someone is better off unemployed at $10-15/hour as opposed to being gainfully employed at $7.25/hour
You cannot legislate equality. If you want to decrease poverty, implement policies to insure that higher levels of education is available to all.
BLOG Topics 2013
January Do Protected Seals lead to Depleted Fish Stocks February Prohibition: Profits to Cartels & Increased Violence for Americans March Increased Minimum Wage & Extended benefits lead to Higher Unemployment April Ethanol from corn & Agflation May Cash for Clunkers lead to Higher Used Car Prices & Wasted Tax Dollars June The Affordable Care Act; Anything but Affordable Part 1 July The Affordable Care Act; The poster Child for False Advertising August Detroit: Higher Taxes + Liberal Benefits = Bankruptcy September No Keystone Pipeline leads to more pollution October Global Warming! Or is it Global Cooling! November Poverty & Benefits December Does Affirmative Action lead to Reverse Discrimination?
Blog Topics 2014
January Will Lake Meade become another Aral Sea February Does Taxing the rich hurt the economy March The Cause of the Great Depression April Temporary Agricultural Subsidies lead to wealthy Farmers and Higher Prices May The Presidents Stance on Gun Control leads to Increased Gun Ownership June Is there really a Gender Pay Gap July Did the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade lower the crime rate August Department of Education and wasted Money October The Financial Follies of the EPA November Social Security and Portfolio Diversification December The White House and Terrorism
Blog Topics 2015
January Does Implementation of the Death Penalty lead to higher costs February Less Competition and Higher Hospital Costs March Millionaires Who Get Subsidies from the Affordable Care Act April The Unintended Obama Legacy May The NY Times and $15 Minimum Wage June Are Disability Payments Bankrupting Social Security August Seattle's $15 minimum wage and it's Surprising Consequence October The Great Stagnation: The Obama Legacy November Poverty in the United States December Should Insider Trading be Legalized: Part one by Olivia Marchioni
Blog Topics 2016
January Should Insider Trading be Legalized: Part 2 February The Presidential Election & the Economy March Does Narcan Increase Heroin Use April Is NOAA destroying the American Fisherman June Will California Style Power Outages Happen in New England July Textbooks, Inflation & the FTC Sept Economic strangulation by Regulation Oct Is this the Best we have? Nov The High Cost of Prescription Drugs Dec Trump, the Economy & Animal Spirits
The United States has amongst the lowest savings rate for all technological nations. The iOMe challenge is a nationwide competition between Colleges where teams submit a 10,000 page essay on how Americans can improve their savings rates. In addition, teams must produce an approximate 60 second video which complements the essay. If you click on the iOMe logo above, it will take you to Bentley University's 2012 video submission. The faculty adviser for the challenge is John Tommasi and is offered during his Fall EC 351 course, Contemporary Issues in Economics. I'm pleased to announce that on February 15, Bentley was declared the winner of the iOMe video portion of the contest. Congrats to the team members and great job!
EC 3900 Energy Economics
EC 3900, Energy Economics and International Markets, is a 3 credit, Short Term Program, that is offered during Spring semester. After 7 weeks of lecture, the class takes a 10 day educational/cultural tour to France where 80% of their electricity is produced by nuclear power. During the 10 day trip, students travel to, and tour various nuclear facilities Last year's class visited; Marsailles, Aix en Provance, Lyons, Brest and 4 days in Paris.
If there were ever words that can strike fear into the hearts of any man women or child, it's: "I'm from the Government and I'm here to help". On a monthly basis my blog, from an economic standpoint, will explore government laws, decisions and actions, which while well intentioned, had inadvertent results that were either disastrous, or made a bad situation worse. It wouldn't surprise me if you reached the conclusion that congress does two things well, nothing and overreact; and you may ask yourself, do Congressional members vote for what is best for the economy, or what will get them re-elected.