Charlestown's Code of Silence

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Charlestown's Code of Silence

Driving through Charlestown will take you just three minutes. The kids on street corners will stare at your car, while adults will yell out your name and wave. The friendly atmosphere can make you feel welcome if you are a part of the neighborhood. But it vanishes if you are an outsider or a local victim of a crime.

“Charlestown is the nicest town you would ever want to live in. There are people there that would help you rebuild your house if it ever burnt down, but they would never take the risk of becoming involved in a court case where they would have to point the finger at somebody,” said Sandy King, a former resident of Charlestown.

The “code of silence” is very real in Charlestown, as much a part of the landscape as the Bunker Hill Monument. The code of silence is the Charlestown phrase for local residents' unwillingness to reveal information to law enforcement authorities that might solve crimes committed by neighborhood residents. People who are present at murders say they saw nothing. In the heat of the moment, those who are careless and say they saw something, later recant. It can be argued that Charlestown has the world's greatest concentration of blind amnesiacs.

“If only the Bunker Hill Monument could speak, the stories it could tell,” said Terry Titcomb, a resident of Charlestown.

Titcomb’s son, Albert, was murdered in 1994 by Shawn Fritz, who is currently serving a life sentence. King's son, Chris, was murdered in 1986 when he was 20. His brother, Jay, 27, was killed in 1991. Both murders remain unsolved.

The silence has been broken in recent years in federal courts where witnesses detailed the crimes of drug kingpins and many hit men, putting many of Charlestown's d...

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...stances. There are 10 steps to grieving. With us, we haven’t gotten past step one. You never get through them the way someone loses someone who was sick and dying. But when your kids goes out the door perfectly fine and you never see them or hear from them again you can never imagine that someone will do that to your child. No matter what anyone thought or them or said about them, that is still your child,” said King.

Nearly 75 percent of the murders that have taken place in Charlestown since 1975 remain unsolved, even though there were witnesses to many of them. Police say those witnesses know who committed nearly all of them.

“Your whole life gets so screwed up and you think that it is never going to back to normal,” said Titcomb.

King concurs with Titcomb.

“As long as I can pick up the phone, I will be there for any mother that needs me,” said King

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