In 1999 Boston Globe columnist Adrian Walker complained about the deal that John Martorno was offered by the federal prosecutor. He wrote: “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 written before about this. I wrote on April 26, 2016, “Did you read about that young Boston woman Elizabeth “Liz” Dixon (sic) a 19-year-old student who recently graduated from St. Joseph’s parochial high school in Roxbury? She was murdered on Saturday morning January 6, 1968. Her murder was on page 17 of the Sunday Globe and the next day on page 34. It never was mentioned again in that newspaper. It was far from national news. No one talked about how horrendous it was.”
The murder was first mentioned the day it happened in the evening Globe on Saturday, January 6, 1968 on page one. It did not include the name of Dixon, the proper spelling of her last name being Dickson, because she had not been identified by that time. It only had that of Herbert Smith, age 47 who was identified as the assistant manager of Basin St. South.
Her name would be mentioned in two other articles. On Sunday, January 7, 1968, on page 17 where it said police were “baffled as to the reason for this vicious murder.” Then it identified the other two victims, Dickson, 19, and Douglas Barrett, 17. It noted then the young woman “was dressed in a purple knit “go-go outfit,” while not mentioning how the men were dressed.
Monday, January 8, 1968, was the last time it was mentioned. It was on page 34 where it spelled Dickson’s name as Dixon. I guess it was not important enough to keep it straight. It said the police were hunting in vain for clues.
Martorano had made arrangements to meet with Smith He was driven there and walked to the car. He got into the back seat. Smith was behind the steering wheel, the young woman next to him in the passenger seat, and the 17-year-old youngster in the back seat next to him as he climbed in. He quickly shot them obviously knowing two of them were very young.
Actually there were clues here, there and everywhere. Somehow they eluded the police. It had been snowing that night. A trail of blood led away from the car for a block. The car was found at 5:30 a.m. and a cigarette was still smoldering in Dickson’s hand. The guy who did it, John Martorno, walked away at 3:30 a.m. and put the gun under some trash lying in the snow; he went down to the main street and hailed a cab, he had the cab stop at a pay phone, he then went to his buddies house in the cab. All the police had to do was locate the cab driver and the case would be wrapped up.
There was more than that. Smith and Martorano were seen at the same time around 1:15 a.m. by a vice police officer at Basin Street. The FBI knew from an informant that Steve Flemmi, Martorano’s friend, had been beaten up at Basin Street around that time by a black bartender which was Smith. Yet as far as one can tell from the media, unlike stories involving other murders never mind triple murders, the investigation went no where. It was not until Martorano got his sweetheart deal from federal prosecutors of 12 years in prison for 20 murders did he tell how he murdered them and it was obvious how many clues there were that could have been pursued had anyone cared just a little bit.
It was mentioned in only three articles and then it disappeared until it was mentioned 31 years later. Neither the police commissioner, the mayor, the governor nor any state elected official expressed any concern over the murders of two teenagers and a forty-seven year old man. No one came out to offer their condolences to the families or vowed to press on until the killers could be found. It was like, “oh well, another auto incident, let’s get a cup of coffee.”
Don’t you think it is all so strange that so little was made of this triple murder? It was never solved nor did anyone really inquire about it after a day or two. How could it have been given such short shrift?
Did I mention that the victims were African-Americans?