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’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
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.”
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
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.
Sources & Related Reading
“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).