Home » Without Answers for 50 Years: Who Is Responsible for the Brutal Murder of Henry Bedard Jr?

Without Answers for 50 Years: Who Is Responsible for the Brutal Murder of Henry Bedard Jr?

Henry Edward Bedard Jr was the quintessential all-American teenager. After spending his early years in Lynn, Massachusetts, Henry’s parents–Henry Sr and Gloria–moved their family to the small city of Swampscott, Massachusetts. With its beautiful beaches and low crime rate, it seemed like the perfect place for the couple to raise their five children. By the winter of 1974 Henry was 15-years-old and thriving both socially and academically. Described as happy go lucky with a smile that could “melt anyone’s heart,” Henry was athletic, active in his high school’s student government, and was incredibly hard working. His free time was divvied up by spending time with friends or his steady girlfriend, playing football on the Swampscott High School varsity football team and working in his family’s Sunoco gas station. He was adored by many and didn’t seem to have a worry in the world. No one could have imagined that the small, seaside town the Bedard’s called home–the kind of place where everyone seemed to know everyone–would soon be the setting for one of the state’s most brutal unsolved murders.

Monday, December 16th, 1974 started off as a typical day. Henry left his family home at 21 MacArthur Circle to walk his younger brother to school. He then continued on for another 2 miles to Swampscott High School. It was reported that Henry attended all of his classes that day and left when school was dismissed at 2:15 PM. Instead of taking his usual route back home or walking his girlfriend Cindy Cavallaro to her house, Henry caught a bus to the nearby Vinnin Square Shopping Center. The Bedard’s had recently found an old roll of 8-millimeter film and the whole family was eager to see what forgotten pictures were contained within. Henry quickly volunteered to drop the film off at the shopping center’s CVS. While still in the CVS, Henry decided to some last-minute Christmas shopping. Henry loved Christmas. On her blog dedicated to his memory, Cheryl Paradise-Armas, Swampscott reporter and Henry’s older sister, recalled how special Henry made Christmas every year. How he would save all the money he made from his allowance and shoveling snow. How seriously, almost business-like, he took Christmas shopping. How he managed to get everyone on his list a thoughtful gift with a budget of just $10.  On his outing to the shopping center, Henry purchased a bottle of perfume for Cheryl, Love’s Musky Jasmine Flower. It was her favorite.

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Henry left the mall by 3:00 PM. This time is corroborated by eyewitness Lieutenant Peter Cassidy who spotted Henry on Paradise Road while on patrol. The two exchanged a friendly wave as Henry hurried by. Cassidy would later recall that Henry seemed to be in a hurry.

By 3:40 PM, now almost a mile away from the mall, Henry was spotted by a group of city workers as he took a well-known short cut through the DPW (Department of Public Works) yard. He politely chatted with the men and wished them a Merry Christmas as he walked by. Henry continued to follow the path of the former rail line until he reached a trail that ran adjacent to the “Swampscott View” or “SW”. The SW was a popular hangout for the Swampscott teenagers during the warmer months. It was Henry’s climb up this hillside, CVS bag in hand, that would mark the last time he was ever seen alive.

It didn’t take long for Henry Senior and Gloria to worry. When their normally reliable son didn’t return home for dinner around 5:30 PM, the family made some phone calls and organized a search party of friends to look for Henry. The group searched frantically until about 9:00 in the evening when his parents decided to report him missing to the police. A heavy rainstorm swept through the area. Henry’s parents worried that he had hurt himself while walking in the woods and was now caught in the storm. It wasn’t until the next day- December 16th, 1974- that the search for Henry took a turn for the worse.

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The Unsolved Brutal Murder of Massachusetts Teenager Henry Bedard Jr : True  Crime Diva

The body of 15-year-old Henry Bedard Jr was discovered by local elementary school students in the SW, right off Suffolk Avenue. He was surrounded by wet leaves; he was covered in blood and the visible trauma to his head was so severe investigators initially thought he’d been shot. A more thorough examination of the crime scene turned up Henry’s wallet, the CVS bag, and a Louisville Slugger baseball bat lying just feet from the body. The bat was covered in blood and had some distinctive markings carved into the butt. Despite investigator’s best efforts, the previous night’s storm had washed away any viable evidence.

An autopsy determined the cause of death was brain lacerations and numerous fractures. Henry had been beaten to death, struck in the head with that Louisville Slugger at least five times. It was also noted that there was no sign of defensive injuries. This led investigators to believe that Henry was taken by surprise. With no chance to defend himself; does this suggest someone had lured him to the SW, laying in wait for him? Or was he in the company of someone he trusted? What brought Henry to the SW on that day? It was a spot better used in the warmer months and it wasn’t part of any shortcut Henry would have used to get home. Did he have to make one more stop before going home for dinner? How could no one, including those city workers nearby, not hear or see anything of such a savage attack? And in a town as small as Swampscott, how could no one know anything? It’s unlikely a stranger swept through the area with the sole purpose of killing a teenager then disappeared into the night. That begs the more haunting question: Was it a member of the community? A peer of Henry’s perhaps?

On December 20th, 1974 nearly 1,500 people packed tightly into Swampscott’s St. John’s Church for Henry’s funeral. Henry was laid to rest wearing a Swampscott High football jersey with the number 30; the same number his older brother wore when he played for the team.

Family members and investigators alike believed early on that the murder weapon was the key to solving this case. The bat was a common model used by most of the local schools in the area. It was a 31-inch, size 1 Louisville Slugger that looked perfectly ordinary, apart from those carvings on the butt. The carvings, over the factory issued number 1 in the center (which represents the size of the bat), appear intentional and depending on how you look at them, the carvings could represent several things.

When looked at from one angle, it looks like a letter “K” surrounded by extra perpendicular lines. Another position makes the markings look like the roman numeral IV. Partial fingerprints were eventually collected, which offered momentary hope to investigators, but they would quickly become an object of controversy when it was discovered the medical examinators did not fingerprint Henry during the autopsy. They had no way of knowing if the prints belonged to a suspect or the victim.

Henry Senior and Gloria divorced just a few years after the murder. The whole family would eventually leave the Swampscott area, unable to live in the same town that claimed their son. Henry’s older sister Cherly would blame herself for years because he didn’t go right home after dropping off that roll of film; he stopped to buy her a Christmas present. Gloria died in 2014 without ever knowing what happened to her child. By all accounts Henry Senior seems to be alive and spending his retirement in Florida.

To some in the community, including Cindy Cavallaro, the day Henry was killed marked the day that the children of Swampscott lost their innocence. People began to lock their doors. Children walked in pairs. Residents became wearier each day that passed without an arrest. This December will mark 50 years since the bright light that was Henry’s young life was snuffed out. Investigators have never publicly announced any leads or prime suspects or even a motive. And despite a $10,000 reward once being offered by the Swampscott Police Department, no one has come forward to offer peace to the Bedard family.

If you have any information on the death of 15-year-old Henry Bedard Jr, you are encouraged to contact the Swampscott Police Department (781-595-1111).

Research Sources:

Remembering Henry Bedard Jr.

Probe Focuses on Baseball Bat

Does a Baseball Bat Hold the Key To Finding Henry Bedard’s Killer?

Coffee And Cases Podcast: E168: Henry Bedard, Jr.

Wicked Deeds Podcast: Henry Bedard Jr

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Written by Fallon Gannon
True Crime stuff. Way too much coffee. Great with other dogs.
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