After dinner at a restaurant last September, a close friend says, Charles Stuart complained that he had noticed something about his pregnant wife, Carol, that he had never seen before, “that she had the upper hand” in their marriage.
As the friend, David F. MacLean, recalled last week, Mr. Stuart was upset that his wife had refused to get an abortion and he was worried that she would not go back to her job as a lawyer after giving birth, lowering the couple’s income. Mr. Stuart then made a startling proposal, Mr. MacLean said. He asked for help in killing Carol Stuart.
This account by Mr. MacLean may be the closest anyone can get to the mind of Mr. Stuart, who the police now suspect shot and killed his wife and then seriously wounded himself in the stomach on Oct. 23 as part of an elaborate and tragic scheme.
At the time of the shootings, Mr. Stuart told the police that the couple had been attacked by a black gunman after they left a childbirth class at a nearby hospital. His story unleashed racial passions in Boston and touched off a wave of national sympathy for Mr. Stuart, his slain wife and their prematurely delivered son, Christopher, who died 17 days after the shooting. But on Jan. 4, 12 hours after his youngest brother, Matthew, told investigators he had taken part in the incident, Mr. Stuart apparently leaped to his death from the Tobin Bridge over the edge of Boston Harbor.
Much about the case remains uncertain. But friends, relatives and law-enforcement officials now say Mr. Stuart may have been consumed by his own rapid financial success. He was a man who had gone from being a short-order cook in a bar a decade ago, making $4 an hour, to the manager of a fur salon on Newbury Street, earning more than $100,000 last year.