The Method, the Madness and the Conceit

In 50 years, since 1970 over 1000 murder case files have grown cold in Boston. The Middlesex County DA recently announced a new task force to focus on these crimes. The statute of limitations on murder does not expire, and new technologies might make some of these murders solvable.

Creating a conversation around these tragedies serves three purposes. First, it offers an outlet for the people affected to log and to register their memories from these traumatic incidents. Second, this is an opportunity to talk about what justice looks like in each instance. Third, it’s a reminder that justice does not sleep, and that every act of violence ripples out, creating collateral damage.

One question this site seeks to answer for these cases is what do the victims’ relatives and friends think and what does the DA think? How would these cases be prosecuted if the killers in each case came forward, and if people do come forward for these crimes should we believe them? Talk of trauma can draw out reactive nonsense.

Each post on this site is an evolving creative work of collective memory and citizen journalism. These posts start small, linking to what’s been established already through the public record. This is not official. This is not professional. It’s not authorized or encouraged. It just exists due to the odd compulsions of its contributors.

It’s possible that some of the people involved in these crimes are incarcerated for other reasons, but confessions are tricky. Watch Frontline’s season 29 episode 3, The Confessions, for a sense of how misguided the justice system can become. The real goal here is to prevent future murders. Trials are messy and often uncertain.

If you want to share anything about the cold cases posted, make a video. Share it on your own timeline in social media and link it to our handles. Or, if you’d rather post anonymously, join the weekly raffle.

We do not have the manpower or an algorithm for sifting through submissions. For now, every week we’re holding a raffle to feature one Oral History Vlog by someone intimately connected to a cold case. If your case file is not already posted on this site, we will make a new entry if you win the raffle.

The madness of this project is in its scope. The Boston Police statistics are shrouded in a protective layer of distrust in the framing of their narrative and subtle misdirection. But at least 20 murders go unsolved each year in the city, and if you look back 50 years the number of posts that this site aspires to maintain is sobering.

The upside of this Oral History retrieval effort is that these stories are evergreens. Even after they are solved, the documents collected will be of public interest. When someone dies in violence their ghost haunts the places and people concerned. This website offers a public document of Boston’s commitment to solving homicides.

The real hard part of this task is carried on the shoulders of the Homicide Unit, who must bear the emotional weight and physical danger of gathering information to solve these crimes.