The Allure of the Drink to Drinkers. A Boston Mystery

CharlatanHow do guys around Boston who have too much to drink end up in the drink?

I have a friend who has been wondering this for a while. My friend suggested there is a serial murderer (or murderers) around who are preying on young guys who are alone late at night and tossing them into the harbor or the rivers. I have to admit I did not give it much consideration. Surely the DAs didn’t think much of the deaths. No evidence of trauma seems to shut any investigations down. So we are left to believe that somehow some guys who get drunk end up fall in the water and drown.

I got to thinking about this.  I’ve been with many guys in my teenage years drinking down at the edge of the waters of Boston Harbor at Savin Hill or Malibu beach or down the Cape. Many of us had had far more to drink than was good for us. Sadly some of my friends became alcoholics who became so badly blitzed some nights we left them at the beach to “sleep it off.”  Yet none of them to my knowledge ended up in the briny deep.

My experience tells me something; the DAs are telling me something else. I wonder if they are not in cruise control preferring to come to the conclusion that single guys with too much to drink fall into the water and drown. Is there anything to back them up in that conclusion?

The most recent death is of a 23 year-old-guy named Michael Kelleher from Southborough who went to a Celtics game on March 27, 2017, with a female friend. She said he had a lot to drink. After the game she waited in her car for him to show up. He never did. He was found on April 15 at the “eastern end of Charles River at the Locks.”  “Investigators saw no obvious signs of physical trauma on the body or of foul play.”

Then there was Zachary Marr a 22-year-old man who disappeared on February 13, 2016, around 1:50 am after stepping out of the Bell in Hand in Boston for a cigarette. His body was found about a month later “in an area of the [Charles] river between the State Police barracks in Leverett Circle and the Museum of Science.”  It was reported, “Preliminary evidence does not immediately suggest violent trauma.”

An article noted after Marr’s body was found: “In the past seven years, the bodies of at least 10 young men have been found in waterways in and around the city, sometimes weeks after their disappearance. Law enforcement has separately attributed those deaths to alcohol, drugs, accidental drownings and suicide.”

There was the mystery surrounding Dennis Njoroge, 21, who was found in the Charles River area of the Arthur Fiedler footbridge at about 10 a.m. on December 31, 2015. He had been missing since November 29. Here is a post setting out the disappearances and drownings of the eleven men before Kelleher, nine of men between the ages of 18 to 26 happened in the last eight years.  There are also weird theories, see here.

A real strange one involves Zachary Marr who tweeted to his cousin inside at 1:40 a.m that he was waiting outside for her to come out of the Bell in Hand. It is reported: “He was caught on CCTV at 1:44 walking past Boston Public Market, heading in the direction of TD Garden and Zakim Bridge. Police later found CCTV footage of Zachary “entering” the water under the Zakim (this footage has not been released)” I’d sure like to know more about what “entering” means.

I suppose one could say the numbers over the last decade are very insignificant given the number of young men who may have had too much to drink night after night. But you can make that argument about murders.

Examining the twelve deaths four can be eliminated because we do not know what they were doing shortly before they disappeared. Of the other eight it is clear all were drinking, none appeared suicidal,  five went missing in February, two in March, and one in October, the latter involving Hurley seems to be a murder. How in the world can it be said in February and March in Boston guys are going to be attracted to the water.

Is there some combination of drink and cold air that brings about delusions? All I can say for now is that with global warming and the winter having passed then perhaps we will be free of these until the winter. I can’t escape the gut feeling that someone is pushing these guys into the drink. Is there in Boston as in other places of the world as mentioned in the weird theories reference an IT?  I’d suggest that is more likely than the theory the investigators are pursuing.





  1. Bill C—-I better e careful, the Arno River is just up the street from my hotel here in Florence. Will says hi.

  2. Here are five mysteries about missing people who are seen again:

  3. Severe hypothermia can lead to an irrational sense of warmth with individuals undressing themselves to compensate (known as “paradoxical undressing”). In the last stages, the brain stem triggers a burrowing behavior whereby people try to hole up somewhere to protect themselves . Coupled with a physiology hobbled by drink, it’s not hard, at least in some of these cases, to imagine a hypothermic individual seeing the water as perhaps an inviting place to cool off. Might also explain why some of them appear to be missing articles of clothing when they are ultimately found.

    Zach Marr reporteedly had no jacket the night he went missing and it was brutally cold. Poor kid was likely horribly confused and hypothermic.

  4. Matt, we have a similar situation here with young men disappearing, and young women. 2014 saw 9,179 missing person reports (up 81% from a decade earlier) but only 31 were unsolved going into this year, and 14 of those cases have since been closed.

    Many of the young persons are last seen leaving a pub late at night. Some are found drowned in canals or streams. One was found dead in a disused doorway seven years after he disappeared. It appeared he fell, hit his head and died where no one saw the body for years.

  5. If one were to mix alcohol with a number of other substances that are in popular usage today you can create a seriously confused and irrational mind. Seriously.

    I remember a couple in Nebraska a number of years ago that drank and smoked meth for the first time at a party. They drove home during a blizzard. Their 911 calls described men attacking their car that had slid into a ditch. Men jumping on the hood and roof. Men with clubs and guns, as I try to recall. The exact details are fuzzy but the general content I can remember was that they were being besieged by a group of men that were trying to kill them. When the men left the scene they got out and tried to make a run for it in the freezing night. I believe they both died of exposure. The scene was undisturbed all the way back to the vehicle. There were no men attacking them. They were alone on a country road and had both imagined the entire episode.

    So some of those young men might have been wrecked on a combination of dope and booze. Even a waterlogged corpse can reveal intoxication levels and substance within. How are the coroners up in Boston these days. They botched my brother’s autopsy.

  6. Matt:
    I read the attached materials. We’re dealing with 11 deaths in the Boston-Cambridge area in about 15 years. Most are inexplicable!
    Seven of the eleven who drowned in Boston hit the water in February or March, the other four in October-December. Not the M.O. of suicides! Accidental drownings usually involve swimmers; more rarely boaters. Oct-March not swimming season in Boston. None of the victims fell off boats. Accidentally stumbling off a wharf is plausible as is accidentally slipping and falling into the Reservoir at Cleveland Circle. But most remain troubling unsolved mysteries, especially with young healthy intelligent men, several of whom were reported “sober”.