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