All the drowning victims the press and the public don't much care about

The Globe writes today that since 2009, at least 11 bodies have been recovered from the water surrounding Boston and that the last one was that of Zachary Marr, whose body was found in the Charles near North Station last March, a month after he disappeared from a downtown bar.

The Globe is wrong on both counts.

Since 2009, the number of people whose bodies have been fished out of the harbor, rivers and reservoir that surround Boston is, in fact, more than 40 (it could be even higher - the Universal Hub archives are not the Archives of Record by any stretch). And since Marr's body was recovered, seven more bodies have been recovered from the Charles, Fort Point Channel and the Muddy River.

Actually, the Globe is wrong on three counts. Its figure of 11 comes from a blog post about "Boston's Missing Men" (which has cases back to 2003); the Globe reporter seems to have missed the follow-up post that added another 11 cases.

Although the author of those two posts does not say there is a common thread to the deaths, that hasn't stopped people on social media, who say the posts help prove there is a serial killer targeting educated, mostly young men in the Boston area.

The problem with that theory is that by cherry picking just 11 (or 22) out of several dozen cases, it's easy to come up with a theory that connects dots that may not be there (and assumes law enforcement has been asleep for decades).

Yes, it's sad that since 2009, 22 (or 40) people have drowned (but let's not forget that last year alone, 47 people were shot, stabbed or beaten to death in Boston). But when you start looking at even the barebones accounts of the cases listed below, you'll see that no, they are not all men, they are not all students at or graduates of the local universities. What they are is a group of people who did not have the support networks of the 11 or 22 other people to mount widespread social-media and flyering campaigns to attract the attention of reporters and bloggers.

Most of the time, their cases were simply ignored by everybody except family members and first responders who had to fish out the bodies and investigators who had to determine how and why they died. In some cases, they were homeless people who literally rolled into the Muddy River or Fort Point Channel from encampments on the banks; in some cases they were alcoholics or drug addicts who slipped on the banks of a river or the edge of a dock and drowned.

And, yes, in some cases they are people who figured out a river would be a handy place in which to die (as Kevin Cullen noted in a 2009 interview with the family of a man who committed suicide by jumping in the Charles).

Drownings since 2009 that did not attract widespread media attention:

  1. Man's body pulled from Muddy River at Charlesgate, 9/4/16
  2. Teen dies after jumping into Charles from Weeks bridge, 7/29/16
  3. Body found in Fort Point Channel near West 4 Street, 7/20/16
  4. Body pulled from Charles River, 7/2/16
  5. Man dies after jumping into the Charles River, 5/17/16
  6. Authorities look for help to identify body found in Charles River last month, 4/28/16
  7. Body recovered from Fort Point Channel near W. 4 Street bridge, 3/19/16
  8. Man's body found in the Charles; not missing Harvard man, 3/10/16
  9. Man falls off boat, drowns in Boston Harbor, 8/9/15
  10. Body found in car in water off UMass Boston, 3/5/16
  11. Body recovered from Charles River, 2/4/16
  12. Body recovered from Reserved Channel, 8/15/15
  13. Man jumps into Charles River, dies, 7/29/15
  14. Woman's body found floating in the Charles, 7/17/15
  15. Homeless man falls into Muddy River, dies 7/7/15
  16. Body pulled from Muddy River; at least third one this year, 11/4/14
  17. Person jumps off the Longfellow; body recovered 2 1/2 hours later, 8/7/14
  18. Body pulled out of Muddy River at Charlesgate, 6/21/14
  19. Body pulled from Muddy River, 3/20/14
  20. Body found in Boston Harbor IDed as man who fell off cruise boat Saturday, 7/30/13
  21. Another dead body pops up, this time on South Boston beach, 7/18/13
  22. Body pulled out of the Charles River, 4/26/13
  23. Another body recovered from the Charles; but probably not missing Brown student, 3/27/13
  24. Body found in Charles River, 10/8/12
  25. Dorchester man's body found floating in Pleasure Bay, 5/29/12
  26. Mass. Ave. bridge shut after woman jumps into river, dies, 10/20/11
  27. Body found in Fort Point Channel, 5/24/11
  28. Man's body recovered from water by Black Falcon pier, 2/10/11
  29. Another body found on a Boston beach, 10/18/10
  30. Body found bobbing in the harbor, 4/15/10

Now keep in mind that Boston is a city of 600,000 people (with one of the world's highest concentrations of college students), literally surrounded by water on all sides, and that many of the more popular drinking establishments are a one or two-minute walk from the water. And if there is a serial killer, he's getting pretty old - the following Globe headline is from 1878:

Woman's body found in Charles River - 1878

Perhaps people who are concerned about serial killers might make better use of their time looking for ways to help the homeless or figure out how to educate college students on the dangers of overdrinking.



Free tagging: 



By on

Very interesting. Thanks for the write up. Adam.

And of course.. Uhub being hyperlocal news by covering stories that most local media doesn't.... Adam, of course, knew about the other 30 or so drownings :-) #Uhub4TheWin

Voting is closed. 109

Wish I could say I was the only one who had all those other ones

By on

First, thanks for the kind words!

The Suffolk County DA's office does an excellent job of keeping the local media updated on bodies recovered in our local waterways - and some of them were found after fairly extensive searches that attracted local media attention, at least for that one day. But with rare exceptions (that Cullen column I linked to), they mostly go without followups, which leads to things such as today's Globe article (which bothered me enough to spend a fair amount of time rummaging around the UHub archives searching on things such as "body recovered Fort Point Channel").

Voting is closed. 52

Thanks, Adam. I appreciate

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Thanks, Adam. I appreciate your coverage of these issues, and agree that the serial killer talk could be redirected to many concrete areas where our time/money can make a real impact.

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Adam knows who did this

Obviously Adam is working with the killer(s). Why else would he be passionate about noting the additional deaths the Globe overlooked and repeatedly denying the obvious conspiracy?


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Excellent work, Adam. Thank

Excellent work, Adam. Thank you. Without the involvement of the families, this quest for "the truth" comes off as extremely self-serving. Bored amateur detectives looking for amusement with no regard for the very real people mourning the victims. Gross.

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Because if there is a serial

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Because if there is a serial killer, he's getting pretty old - the following Globe headline is from 1878

So vampire?

Voting is closed. 32

Typo alert

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"(as Kevin Cullen noted in a 2009 interview with the family of a man who committed suicide by jumpin in the Charles)." ((Also an earlier article has the word Roxbuy in the headline.))

Great write up.

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Typo fixed

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Thanks! As for the Roxbury thing, do you recall which article by chance?

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Don't understand

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How a person can fall in the water (on the shore, this isn't on a cruise) and not stand up and get out of the water, even when intoxicated.

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Rocks: Lots and lots of rocks

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You lose your footing on the banks of the Charles (or in that one case, on the banks of the Chestnut Hill Reservoir), hit your head on the rocks that line the shore, you are knocked unconscious and you drown.

Or you get snagged on something under the waterline, you can't reach the surface and you drown.

Or, in some cases, you want to drown and you jump off the Mass Ave. Bridge (or the Tobin, although the state seems to have fixed that in the last major bridge painting project, and in any case, many of the people hit the hard ground of Terminal Street rather than the water).

Voting is closed. 25

Not always shallow

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You're assuming that it's like the beach, where the water starts really shallow and gradually gets deeper. But that's not true along the shores of many rivers. You might have noticed that there are boat houses along the Charles - that means the water is deep enough at the edges for the boats. And some of the drownings are people who fall into the harbor - again, not shallow.

Voting is closed. 31

Not Always Easy

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Look at something like the Cambridge Canal. It's 10 feet deep. There aren't any obvious ladders or ramps. It's pretty easy to slip on the granite surrounding it and go right in with no easy way out.

Voting is closed. 8

Dirty water...

By on

Also you need to take into consideration that the water in
some of these areas is so dirty that when you fall in, you have less than 12" of visibility in every direction. That makes it easier to get even more disoriented. Adding severe amounts of alcohol and frigid water temps would make it damn near impossible to help yourself out of the water.

It's a shame that this has been happening and my deepest condolences go out to all the families who have suffered the loss of a loved one.

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By on why I stopped going to the Globe/ (or whatever iteration it is now) years ago. Excellent work by Adam/UHub.

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Thank you

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Excellent write-up. Have you considered submitting this to the Globe as an op-ed?

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I agree

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Globe readers need to be reminded of what gets left out of the Globe.

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or maybe..

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local news story? WBZ or NBC?

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Do people care if it's news

I question the standard of caring, denominated in days of local news coverage. Isn't this called reification? The transformation of a life into a number of broadcast bits on the news?

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Adam you might want to

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Adam you might want to research that fake news. DC PD indicated that story was nonsense.

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Accidental drowning is sadly quite common

It is happening everywhere because it is so common. Wherever you have young people - particularly males - alcohol, and bodies of water you get these sad events.

It is so common that the CDC not only keeps statistics on it, they list it as a common cause of death for young people, including 18-24 year old males.

There is no serial killer, no sinister cabal, nothing of the sort. Just a common sad event playing out wherever the conditions exist.

Instead of getting your information on these things from a random melodramatic blog that is cherrypicking anecdotes, may I suggest going to the Centers for Disease Control's website?

More big thanks to Adam for tackling this. Much easier to believe that it is evil goings on than to actually look up the staggering prevalence of the intersection of bad luck and bad judgement. We would all like to think that our kids are smarter than this. Part of grappling with the problem is knowing that they probably aren't.

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I should stop chopping them up and just throw them in the harbor?

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If people took 5 minutes to read ANYthing else from that blogger

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We wouldn't be having this conversation. Feel free to follow the links About Me and Mysteries and Paranormal. The author is a goth chick who fully confesses to being a cryptozoologist, (read: Bigfoot hunter) who loves weird things and late night horror films.

Among her writings are follow ups on the disappearance of Zachary Marr. Since the police made the decision that the general public didn't need to see the video of him falling into the river she openly questions if the cops were covering something up. She later writes this long piece about how she's been obsessing about this video:

"I would give nearly anything to see that footage. Not for any sick pleasure or macabre entertainment; I suffered from nightmares for some time about Zach. In fact, the idea of seeing the video fills me with a sense of unrivaled dread. But something in me needs to see it, in some strange way."

I leave you to reach your own conclusions.

Voting is closed. 17

One of her latest tweets: Why

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One of her latest tweets: Why do I crave attention until I get it and then all I want is to be invisible?

Perhaps as her story gets shared on social media lately as "proof" of something sinister happening, she's being called out on it. In the comments you can even see a family member of one of the deceased men chastising her and even brought up the false info she was giving on the details of her loved one's death.

Voting is closed. 3

A different thought about "Globe" stories

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Between what you have linked to here and the story about the Colombian girls, I am a bit confused. These poorly written articles were on the website, but I have yet to see them in print (yes, I am a print purist.) Could it be that they don't mass the muster to be up in the big leagues of what the Globe prints?

I'll say this, anyone who mentions that Wisconsin BS cannot be taken seriously. Do they even have editors at the Globe anymore?

Voting is closed. 10

The Globe did what Fox news does when even they know its BS.

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The reported on the reporting of others. A whole lot of "others say" which gives them deniability when they want to weasel out. Think of Spicey claiming that the Brits were spying for Obama then falling back to "I didn't say that, other people did and I was just repeating it."

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