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The Unsolved Murder of Henry Bedard Jr.

Case File Overview

Henry Bedard Jr. was born on June 25, 1958 to Henry Sr. and Gloria Bedard. He enjoyed a rather idyllic American middle-class childhood, spending his early years in Lynn, Massachusetts and growing up with loving parents alongside his three brothers—John, Stephen, and Scott—and his sister Cheryl.

Henry loved playing with trucks, spending time at the beach, and eating chocolate ice cream. He was also a huge sports fan, with a particular affinity for baseball and football. It was no surprise to anyone that Henry had a ton of friends—he was always happy and had a smile his family said could “melt anyone’s heart.”  

In 1970 the Bedards moved to Swampscott, Massachusetts. A suburb of Boston, the small city of around 13,500 people is known for its beautiful beaches and for being a safe place to raise a family. 

In Swampscott, Henry was a popular teen. By 1974, the high school sophomore played on the Varsity Football Team. And with his good looks, sense of humor, and confidence Henry was never short of friends and had even started dating.  

Henry was also independent and a hard worker. He worked at his family’s Sunoco gas station on the weekends and had already saved up $900 so he could buy his first vehicle when he turned sixteen. He wanted to open the station on his own on the weekends so his dad could sleep in – something he rarely got to do. 

On Monday December 16, Henry left the family home at 21 MacArthur Circle and walked his younger brother to school. Henry continued on to Swampscott High School where he attended all of his classes. When school let out at 2:15PM, instead of following his usual routine and walking home with friends, Henry caught the bus to the Vinnin Square Shopping Center. 

While at the mall, Henry first dropped off a roll of 8-millimeter film to be developed at CVS, a large pharmacy chain in the US. His dad had recently found some film that had gone undeveloped for years and Henry was excited to see what gems might be on it. 

After leaving the CVS, Henry did some Christmas shopping. He loved Christmas, especially saving his money and thoughtfully picking out perfect gifts for his family. On this outing, he purchased perfume for his older sister Cheryl: Love’s Musky Jasmine Flower. It was her favourite.  

Henry left the mall around 3:00PM. A short while later, Peter Cassidy, then a Lieutenant with the Swampscott Police, stopped his vehicle to let Henry cross Paradise Road. They waved a friendly hello as Henry strode by. 

At 3:40PM, nearly a mile south of the mall, Henry was spotted by a group of city workers as he took a shortcut through the Department of Public Works (DPW) yard. He chatted with them as he walked by, wishing them a merry Christmas and proudly holding up his CVS bag while explaining he was headed home to wrap gifts. The workers watched as Henry followed the path of the former rail line and climbed a trail into a wooded area near his home. 

Henry’s parents really began to worry when darkness fell and Henry did not show up for dinner. He was always home by 5:30PM and never missed a meal with his family unless he told them in advance he would not be home. 

By 7:00PM the Bedards were in full panic mode. They gathered family and friends and threw together an informal search party. They split up and combed parks and local pathways, focusing on the possible routes Henry might have taken home.

Their efforts were made all the more difficult by an unrelenting rainstorm that had rolled into the area. The searchers, though, refused to give up. They were concerned Henry had somehow injured himself on his way home and required medical attention, in which case time was of the essence. 

Henry’s parents eventually realized they needed help, so at 9:15PM they called the police to report their son missing. And by early the next day it was all hands on deck. Searchers and scent dogs scoured surrounding neighbourhoods. Even a helicopter was brought in to assist. But there was no sign of Henry. 

Finally, at 2:30PM a local mom contacted the police and reported her son and his friend had found Henry’s body. Later it was revealed that on the previous day, just before 4:00PM, two boys on their way to a birthday party had spotted a brown empty wallet and a CVS bag containing a bottle of perfume on a rocky, wooded ledge overlooking the DPW yard. 

One of the boys mentioned their discovery to the birthday boy—ten-year-old Cliff Goodman—at school the day after the party. Cliff and the unnamed boy went back to the site after school, nearly 24 hours after Henry had vanished, to look for the wallet and perfume…and found much more than they had bargained for. Buried under a pile of leaves was Henry’s severely beaten body. 

Investigators closed off the area and thoroughly searched the crime scene. But the torrential rains that had swept through the region the night of Henry’s murder had washed away any footprints, and likely destroyed other viable evidence.

Floodlights were brought in to extend the search into the evening hours and investigators examined every square inch of the hillside. Even a metal detector was used to try to find evidence not easily visible to the naked eye. 

Investigator Searching the Crime Scene

Henry Bedard Jr. crime scene
Source: Remember Henry Bedard Jr. Website

Henry’s wallet and the CVS bag were still at the scene. But what really caught the police’s attention was the blood-splattered Louisville Slugger baseball bat found just a few feet away from Henry’s body. And the bat had distinctive markings carved into the butt. 

Autopsy findings indicated Henry had died from “brain lacerations and numerous fractures.” The young man was beaten to death, hit by “at least five distinct blows to the head” with a hard cylindric object like a baseball bat—all evidence pointed towards the bat covered in Henry’s blood found at the scene. 

Over the years, the evidence has been sent in for testing multiple times… a good move given the rapid advances in forensic science. Two partial fingerprints were found in the blood on the baseball bat, but this is not as straightforward as it should be. Henry was never fingerprinted during the autopsy, so it is unclear if the fingerprints belong to Henry or his killer. However, it is believed the authorities also have DNA evidence, either from Henry’s clothing or the bat, but they have yet to find a match in any database. 

The Bedard Family Attending Henry’s Funeral

Bedard family at Henry Bedard Jr. Funeral
Source: Remember Henry Bedard Jr. Website

In the months following Henry’s murder, police interviewed nearly 100 people. And nine unnamed teenagers agreed to take polygraph tests and passed. Within months, though, even a $10,000 reward stopped generating clues… and the case eventually went cold. 

Henry’s killer has never been caught. 

Case File Theories

Killed by a stranger

Was Henry killed by a stranger? Maybe, but it is highly unlikely. 

In 1974, Swampscott was far from a crime hotbed. Henry’s case was the town’s only murder that year, with police spending the majority of their time responding to traffic incidents and medical emergencies. 

Henry’s wallet was empty, suggesting maybe he was killed during a robbery. But beating someone to death with a baseball bat seems excessively personal—someone fuelled by rage—which is not usually associated with a random robbery. The killer could have easily taken the cash from Henry’s wallet to make the crime appear to be a robbery. 

Some theories of the murder going around town centered on Henry being killed by a stranger, either a deranged hobo riding the trains or “some nut from Lynn,” Henry’s hometown. The police looked into every theory, no matter how ridiculous, but none of them had any evidence backing them up. 

And finally, the location where Henry was killed— the wooded area known as Swampscott View—calls into question a stranger killing. Would a person really hang out in the cold, wet woods just in the hopes someone would wander by to rob? Probably not.  

Murdered by someone from his inner circle

Was Henry killed by someone he knew? This is the most probable theory. 

Swampscott authorities think Henry was killed by someone in his close circle of friends. They point out most people who saw Henry after his trip to the mall thought he was in a rush. The police believe he was meeting someone up at Swampscott View. It was, after all, a popular meet-up spot for local teenagers—Henry had in fact been up there the past summer. But in the wintertime, it seems a strange place to plan to meet someone. Unless you wanted to be alone for some reason, as the odds of someone passing by would be pretty low. 

Further evidence Henry was meeting someone the day he was killed comes from his friends and family. Mark Gambale, Henry’s good friend, said he never knew Henry to take a shortcut home that went through the area where he was killed. This carries a lot of weight since they often walked home together. 

To add to this, Henry’s mom told reporters, “I just want to know why he was up there that day.” According to her, Swampscott View was not near a shortcut Henry would take home, even if he was coming from the mall and not from school. 

There was some talk that on the day of Henry’s death he was seen by a teacher arguing about money with an unnamed student at the school. But it is doubtful there is anything to this story. 

A couple of reports say both this student and Henry were absent from their last class, while other media coverage suggests Henry attended all of his classes the day in question. Besides, Henry went to the mall after school and was seen alive, and by himself, after that by several people—he was not killed right after leaving school. So even if Henry and this mystery student both missed last class, which is unproven, it is unclear why it even matters. 

Plus it would be odd for Henry to be arguing with another student about money. Henry was very careful with his finances. He had saved up and purchased his own bike, had put $900 aside for a car, and had a history of squirreling away his allowance to buy Christmas gifts for his family. Does this sound like someone who needed to borrow money? Let alone someone who would borrow money and then not be able to pay it back? 

If anything, it is more plausible someone borrowed money from Henry, was not able to pay it back, and a fight ensued that ended in Henry’s death. The killer might then have taken money from Henry’s wallet to make it look like a robbery. All we can do is hope the police carefully went through Henry’s financials and investigated if any money was unaccounted for. 

One thing not mentioned anywhere is the mysterious film Henry dropped off the afternoon he was killed—the film that had been sitting around undeveloped for years. What if Henry was killed because there was something on that film someone did not want to become public? 

Albeit the film was already in for processing, but still… it is bizarre timing. No doubt the police reviewed the film after it was developed, so we likely would have heard more about it by now if it played a role in the case. Anyways, perhaps this theory requires too vivid of an imagination. 

If Henry was killed by someone close to him, then it is likely the murderer’s family and friends have managed to keep a gigantic secret for years. Particularly because of the unique markings on the baseball bat found at the scene. It is impossible to believe someone close to the killer does not recognize the bat. 

Forty-five years after Henry was murdered, the authorities made public photos of the baseball bat believed to be the murder weapon. The Swampscott police explained, “This bat has unique markings on the handle that investigators are hoping can lead to the owner.” 

Murder Weapon

Henry Bedard Jr. Murder Weapon
Source: Remember Henry Bedard Jr. Website

The bat appears to have the Roman numeral “VI” carved into the butt. But it also looks like the number “1” is on the bat, and that it may have at one point been the number “10” and then the Roman numeral was carved over top.

Close-Up of Carving on the Baseball Bat

Henry Bedard Junior Murder Weapon
Source: Remember Henry Bedard Jr. Website

It has been suggested little league players sometimes carve their jersey numbers into the butt of their bat for sentimental reasons, as well as to help them quickly identify their bat. And then if they changed jersey numbers for some reason, they would just adjust the number carved into their bat. 

If something like this happened here, it could explain the markings on the murder weapon. The person who owned the bat first could have worn jersey number “10” and then later got assigned jersey number “6.” They might have used the Roman numeral “VI” because the number “6” might be mistaken for a “9.”

Even another possibility is the bat belonged to a family member or a friend of the killer.  

What does NOT seem possible is that no one recognizes the unique markings on the bat. Odds are someone out there knows whose bat it is—and is letting someone get away with murder.

What do you think happened to Henry? 

Henry’s death had a long-lasting impact on the Swampscott community. 

His childhood friend, Cindy Cavallaro, said the town was never the same. Residents started locking their doors and trust became a thing of the past. Cindy dubbed the day Henry was killed “the day that the Swampscott children lost their innocence.’’ To honor Henry, a college scholarship was established in his name. And at least two high school yearbooks were dedicated to the young man and all that he accomplished in the short time he had. 

The loss of Henry also still reverberates in the hearts and minds of those closest to him. 

Paul Zuchero, Henry’s good friend, has spent many sleepless nights wondering what happened… pondering how the killer is still free and thinking about all that Henry has lost. Decades on, Paul keeps a photo of Henry on his fridge door. It is surrounded by images of Paul’s family taken over the years. This way, Paul explained, Henry remains at the center of his life. 

Cheryl, Henry’s sister, said her brother’s murder “tore our family apart, each of us retreating into our own cocoon, never discussing his death as a family.” Henry’s parents eventually divorced and left town. This is very common when a couple experiences the loss of a child as the grief can be all-consuming. It is hard to function let alone nurture a marriage. 

And heartbreakingly, because Henry broke his normal routine to stop at the mall to buy Cheryl perfume for Christmas, his sister blamed herself for his death for years. Cheryl said “a part of her died that day as well.” 

Really, solving this case after so many decades have gone by will likely come down to one of two things. 

One, someone will come forward with information and solve the case—this could be either a deathbed confession by the murderer or a person who recognizes the markings on the baseball bat will finally step up and identify the killer. 

Or two, there will be a DNA match. Police have both the murder weapon and the clothing Henry was wearing the afternoon he was murdered. With the advances in technology since Henry was killed, a DNA match could be made any day. And then the perpetrator will hopefully end up behind bars where they belong. 

If you have any information about Henry’s murder, please contact the Swampscott Police Department at 781-595-1111. 

“Investigators still looking to unlock mystery of 1974 murder of Swampscott teenager,” Boston Globe, December 20, 2019. 

“2020 marks the 46th anniversary of Henry Bedard’s murder,” Swampscott Police Department Facebook Page, December 19, 2019. 

“Swampscott police renew push to solve 45-year-old murder,” Patch.com, December 19, 2019. 

“Swampscott police still looking for answers on 45th anniversary of 15-year-old’s unsolved murder,” 7 News Boston, December 19, 2019. 

“Peter Cassidy hailed as ‘a man of great integrity’,” The Salem News, June 4, 2015. 

“Dead-end case turns to Facebook,” Boston.com, January 30, 2011. 

“Still seeking truth, justice, and closure for Henry Bedard Jr.,” WickedLocal.com, December 16, 2010. 

“Remembering Henry E. Bedard Jr., 35 years on,” WickedLocal.com, December 28, 2009. 

“Regarding Henry; thirty years later, the scars of an unsolved murder linger,” Boston Globe, December 16, 2004.

 “Remember Henry Bedard Jr.,” Website (includes a number of archived newspaper articles).

Interested in mysterious cold cases? Listen to our audio file on the murder of Margaret Rosewarne and read our article on the disappearance of Mitch Weiser and Bonnie Bickwit.

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Published inUnsolved Murder Files

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31 Comments

  1. Possibly his body was put there because of the unrecognized DNA on his coat, he killed him then put him at Swampsccott View to confuse, I don’t know about baseball

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Sherlock. Thanks for reading! Maybe Henry’s body was moved there but I doubt it since so many people saw him go up the trail to Swampscott View. There likely would have been blood splatter at the scene but the torrential rain probably washed it away. You mentioned the DNA! I think that will be the key to solving the case. Here’s hoping they find a match soon. Or someone who recognizes the bat and knows the killer comes forward. Take care and talk soon!

      • Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Holmes

        I have a case at the moment, a dog-napping, what happened was a woman was walking her dog and in broad daylight a man came out of nowhere and took the dog put in his van and drove off, I am currently investigating it, any ideas ?

        • Christine Christine

          Wow! That’s terrible. Was it considered an expensive breed of dog? The first thing I’d do is canvas the neighbourhood and see if there were any witnesses. Also ask the victim if she has any idea who would do this. Plus find out if similar things have happened in the area. So strange!

      • Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Holmes

        I was going to look at the mud on the van and let the victim describe it because where I live has a very distinct mud and I need to figure out where he came from and then trace him, I may not find the specific dog but my investigations lead me to believe this is apart of a dog trafficking ring, something much bigger, and I am trying to find adequate evidence to uncover their operations.

        All the best,

        SH

        • Christine Christine

          Yes! Great idea to see if you can find the van. Wow. I had no idea there would be a dog kidnapping ring! Live and learn. Let us know how it goes.

      • Or possibly maybe the killer had the same build as henry but that’s unlikely, silly comment.

  2. Jake Jake

    Was the bat his?

    • Christine Christine

      Nope! His family had never seen it.

  3. Jake Jake

    Did the town have a little league.

    • Christine Christine

      I think so yes. No doubt surrounding towns would have at the very least. But no one came forward and recognized the bat.

  4. Jake Jake

    Do you have a better picture of the bat?

    • Christine Christine

      No. But if you Google the case more images will come up.

      • Christine Christine

        Thanks, Esmee! We already link to this site in our Further Reading section (it’s a blog that used to be run by Henry’s sister) but the more links the better! Take care and thanks for reading… especially all the way from Holland!

        • Esmee Esmee

          yeah, I’m really interested in this type of stuff. I like to read it and look if I can find some type of hints to solve the case. all the way from holland yes.

  5. Jake Jake

    Sorry for being a little pushy, but do you know the age of the bat?

    • Christine Christine

      Nope! I didn’t see the age of the bat mentioned.

  6. Jake Jake

    Do you have a place where the full case file is.

    • Christine Christine

      This is the case file. Any other questions feel free to email us. Thanks!

  7. David Pratt David Pratt

    Several things struck me about this.

    First of all, that “1” on the bat is not carved – it’s stamped. This is the kind of marking athletics departments use to either track inventory or make it easier to pick your “favorite” bat out of the rack when it’s your turn at bat. My totally unscientific guess -based on items I may or may not have purloined from my HS – is someone “borrowed” the bat from an athletic department or Little League – and then made it their own by carving something else on it.

    Secondly, it seems this was premeditated. A ball bat is not something you find lying nearby or just happen to be carrying – especially at that time of year. It’s not like he was hit with a rock that happened to be there.

    Third, it kind of doesn’t seem like a weapon an adult would use. Typically if an adult uses a ball bat on someone, it’s because it’s nearby and handy.

    Fourth, someone capable of that kind of violence, it wouldn’t be an isolated incident. With a temper like that, there’s a good chance there are other incidents in their life, before, after or both.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi David. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to share your thoughts. I agree that the “1” definitely looks different than the “VI” – I also wouldn’t be surprised if it was a factory marking for length or some kind of stamp for a particular school or league. Absolutely it was premeditated. At that time of year it would be tough to believe someone was out on their way to play baseball. So either someone was waiting to rob and kill a stranger (less likely) or someone Henry knew was meeting him and planned on killing him (more likely). Not sure about an adult not using a baseball bat as a weapon, but as the article says the police are pretty sure it was someone from Henry’s group of friends, so it does make sense it was a teenager. I really like your thought about the level of violence not being an isolated incident. Hopefully the police are keeping a close eye on the actions of those from Henry’s inner circle of friends over the years. But I imagine this gets more complicated when people move away, etc. Thanks again for sharing your ideas – they were thought-provoking and helpful! Take care ~ Christine

  8. “And finally, the location where Henry was killed— the wooded area known as Swampscott View—calls into question a stranger killing. Would a person really hang out in the cold, wet woods just in the hopes someone would wander by to rob? Probably not. ”

    I have the same feeling about the many cases where someone is murdered in a remote or secluded location – why would someone wait hours in the hope that someone might turn up there?

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Graham. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. Yes! I couldn’t agree more. The odds of someone doing that seems very low. I can’t imagine how frustrated the authorities must be knowing it’s someone Henry knew but then not being able to move forward. I wonder if they actually have a suspect but just can’t prove it enough to be able to take it to court. Hopefully Henry’s loved ones get some answers soon!

  9. Jay and Val Jay and Val

    The perfume reference is pretty interesting to me and my girlfriend. We’re sitting in bed, looking over this case and my first immediate thoughts are as follows:

    • 15 is around the age you start omitting info to your parents, especially about dating (since it was referenced)

    • The perfume is never actually entirely linked to his sister, only that she likes that one and assumed it was a gift for her. It could’ve been for a girlfriend.

    • Giving a gift might account for a secret meet up in the woods, my mind went immediately to him meeting up with a girl. I’d wonder if there was any mention of someone was seeing or if his friends at school knew different info than parents.

    • the two boys that found his wallet and bag nearly 20 minutes later, surely they would’ve heard him. I’d be interested to see which direction the two kids were originally coming from.

    Google maps also puts the park right behind the high school — which would account for easy access for somebody with a baseball bat from the athletic department. Anybody in the gym for winter sport practice could’ve had access to it before going home, considering when I was in high school in 2013, we had free reign. I’m sure over 30 years ago was no different.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Jay and Val – Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts on this case! Interesting take on the perfume. You’re right… we are just assuming it was for Henry’s sister. It could have been for someone he was interested in. It would make sense to me that he would buy such a person the same perfume his sister liked in the hopes they would like it as well. But I would think he would wrap the gift first before presenting it… and maybe give it closer to the big day. But I suppose someone could have killed Henry out of jealousy? Fascinating insights! Thanks for getting our brains turning.

  10. Laura cases Laura cases

    Hi
    I AM SHOCKED by his case and how you don’t have the killer to this day because it is a case of group suspects, because a stranger would not murder you like that since you can’t find a club like that anywhere.

    I’m from Brazil!

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Laura. Thanks for reading. Yes, odds are someone Henry knew killed him. Here’s hoping it’s solved soon!

  11. Jessica Taylor Jessica Taylor

    Was Henery interested in a girl that already had a boyfriend?
    Could that girl have set a date to meet with him there?
    Could the girl’s boyfriend have found this out?
    Could have one of the workers that saw him walk by know he had cash on him?

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Jessica. Lots of great questions we don’t know all the answers to! I saw some info that Henry was dating and it seems like mainly the same girl who didn’t have another boyfriend. But it’s tough to know all the details with teenagers as sometimes they aren’t always keen to share info. Maybe it was one of the workers. But it would be odd he had a baseball with him. And difficult for him to do it without the other workers knowing. And we all know it’s near impossible for a group of people to keep a big secret. Take care and thanks again!

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