I should not have said The murder of Dixon, Barrett and Smith disappeared. Thirty-one years later after Martorano got his deal we would again read about it. Adrian Walker of the Globe criticized Martorano’s deal. He would write: “You can commit one of the worst massacres in this city’s bloody history and pay no price at all. The lives of Smith, Dickson, and Barrett meant virtually nothing.”
I’ve only accessed the Globe archives. I assume none of the other newspapers made much of it. Certainly no editorials were written nor did any public officials like the Boston Police commissioner, the district attorney, the mayor, or attorney general seek the public’s help in solving these murders. Even had the black community cared nothing was carried in the news about it. Three murders forgotten forever until the murderer needed to get a deal.
Did these three black lives matter? Elizabeth Dixon’s murder and that of two others, a black teen age boy and a 47-year-old assistant manager of a night club tugged at no media or public officials’heart strings. How could it be that three were found slain like that and so few seemed to care or have an interest? Was it because black lives did not matter? It is impossible for me to believe had three white persons been found executed like this in West Roxbury it would have disappeared in a similar manner. There would have been more public and media outrage. A better investigation would have followed; tons more media time would have been devoted to it; the press would have reached out to their families to give us a sense of who these victims were.
I had friends growing up, Ralph and Tony Veranis. Tony Veranis was murdered by Murderman Martorano in April 1966 a year and a half before Elizabeth Dixon. The police said according to an article “Veranis was pistol-whipped and shot with a .38 calibre weapon, apparently while on his knees. . . .” Martorano perjured himself when testifying about how he killed Tony. He said Tony tried to draw on him but he was too slow. He skipped the beating where he and others held him down. Unlike former FBI agent Bob Fitzpatrick, Martorano was not indicted for perjury. He was a government witness.
There were two news stories about Veranis’s murder. There was also a full length column by the late Bud Collins “Veranis Found Self — Too Late.”. He concluded: “he seemed to have found [the right way] when I saw him six months ago. But he did something to offend the animals that killed him. . . . ”
Tony’s name would surface from time to time. A hoodlum named William Geraway was indicted for his murder; his family for years put notices in the newspaper telling how they were still thinking of him. He did not disappear from public notice after two days like Elizabeth and her two fellow victims.
There were other murders of women that I looked at to see the coverage they received. On September 15, 1992, the body of 27-year-old Susan Taraskiewicz was found in the trunk of her blue Toyota Tercel in the parking lot of a Revere auto body shop. She had been murdered being found with multiple stab wounds to her back and by blunt trauma to her head and neck.
On Sept. 13, 1992, Taraskiewicz, 27, took sandwich orders from co-workers at Northwest Airlines at Logan Airport and left for an early morning food run. She never came back. Thirteen years later on September 14, 2005, the Suffolk DA appealed for the public’s help in solving it. Seventeen years later In 2009 another article appeared. The latest article of the fifty or so in the Boston Globe was 22 years later.
About a half-year earlier than Elizabeth on May 15 Ruth Masters a 33-years-old mother was murdered in Myles Standish state park in Plymouth while she was out bicycling. Two and a half years and 16 articles later it was still being investigated and written about. That too, like Tony’s and Susan’s murder only involved one person. There was continuing interest in their killings by the investigators and media so unlike the triple murder in Roxbury.
No one wanted to forget Susan’s murder; no one wanted to remember Elizabeth’s. Why so much coverage for Susan and so little for the three black victims? (continued in part 3)