It was Monday, December 16, 1974, and Henry Bedard ran out of Swampscott High School in Swampscott, Massachusetts, as soon as the last bell rang. The 15-year-old went straight to Valero in Vinnin Square in downtown Swampscott to drop off some film to be developed. While he was there, Henry looked around the store for a while and chose to buy his sister a bottle of perfume for Christmas. Around 3:00 pm, he left CVS but never got back to his house.
When Henry Bedard wasn’t home for dinner at 5:30 pm, his parents, Henry and Gloria Bedard, began to worry. They tried calling some of his friends, but no one knew where the teen could be. Other people in Henry’s neighborhood and some of his friends helped his parents look for their son for several hours. By 9 p.m., it was pouring down rain, and everyone was scared that Henry had been hurt. They told the Swampscott Police Department that Henry was missing.
Everyone in Swampscott knew each other because it was a small town. Few people thought a teenager would just vanish without a trace in that area. Over the course of the night, police searched for Henry but couldn’t find any signs of him. As soon as the sun came up on Tuesday, search dogs were brought in to go through the woods around Henry’s neighborhood. At the same time, a helicopter crew flew over the area and looked for bodies.
At 2:30 pm, two teens rushed home to tell their mom that on their way home from school, they found a dead body in the woods. Henry’s mother called the police right away and led them to a wooded area at the end of Suffolk Avenue, where they found his body half-buried under some leaves. He had been killed.
As word got out that Henry had been found, people in the area tried to figure out what had happened. It was safe for teens to walk across town late at night in Swampscott because most people didn’t lock their doors or cars. Henry was well-known, and no one could understand why someone would want to kill him. A gym teacher at Swampscott High School named Donald Hallett said, “He was the kind of boy you would have wanted for your own son.”
Henry was a popular sophomore at Swampscott High School. He got along well with both his teachers and his classmates. He played football on the junior varsity level and was going to try out for the track team. He also worked part-time at his dad’s Sunoco station in nearby Danvers, Massachusetts. What his friends said about him was that he was always happy and upbeat. No one knew of any enemies he had.
Henry graduated from Shaw Junior High School in June of the previous year. He had only been at Swampscott High School for a few months, but many of the teachers there liked him already. In middle school, Henry played football, track, baseball, and hockey at Shaw Junior High. He was excited to keep playing sports in high school.
The medical examiner for Essex County, Dr. Albert Shub, said that Henry had been dead for almost 24 hours by the time his body was found. This means that he died soon after leaving CVS the previous afternoon. He saw that Henry had a serious head injury. At first, he thought the teen had been shot, but later he realized he had been hit in the head. He died from cuts on the brain and many broken bones in his skull. Because Henry didn’t have any defensive wounds, police thought that his killer had caught him off guard. The attack most likely came from behind.
A bloody baseball bat was found near where Henry’s body was found, and police knew it was the murder weapon. An area not far away also had Henry’s wallet discovered, but police would not say what had been taken from it. Investigators searched the area around where Henry’s body was found with metal detectors and floodlights, but they didn’t find any more clues.
Investigators talked to all of Henry’s friends and acquaintances to try to figure out why he was killed. They thought that he had probably been attacked by several teens instead of adults, but they didn’t know why he had been killed so badly. Henry had always been a good kid who didn’t do drugs or hang out with people who did. Family, friends, and sports were important to him.
Henry was laid to rest at St. John the Evangelist Church in Swampscott on December 20, 1974. The service had more than 1,500 people, and many of them were Henry’s friends and classmates. What the teen was buried in was his football jersey and the brand-new shoes that his sister had planned to give him for Christmas. In charge of the service, Rev. Edmond Derosier said what everyone was thinking in a few words. “We lost a good man for no reason.”
Detectives were trying to figure out what happened to Henry while his family and friends were sad about his death. The bloody baseball bat they found next to Henry’s body was the only real clue they had. There was a mark on the bottom of the bat. Stanley Bondelevitch, who is in charge of sports at the high school, said it looked “like someone stood the bat on one end and put a branding iron on it.” Detectives thought this mark would help them find the bat’s owner.
It was a 30 inch long Hank Aaron Louisville Slugger Model 125 Little League bat. This kind of bat was used by a lot of public elementary schools. Detectives were hoping that the mark on the bat would help them find its owner. They talked to several Little League coaches to see if anyone could identify the mark on the bat, but no one could.
The state police sent the bat to their crime lab, where they confirmed that the marks on it were blood. Technicians were also able to find one fingerprint on the bat, but Monday’s heavy rain probably washed away most of the evidence the bat used to hold.
The police were able to figure out that Henry died between 2:30 and 4:30 on the Monday that he was last seen. As they walked home at 4:30 pm, two young boys told police that they had seen Henry’s empty wallet lying on the ground near Suffolk Avenue. When the boys picked it up, there was no money or ID inside, so they thought someone had thrown it away and put it back on the ground. They hadn’t seen Henry’s body or thought about the wallet since the murder of the teenager.
On December 30, 1974, police sent pictures of the baseball bat to the news media in the hopes that someone would recognize the marks on the end of it. The bat had the number “1” on it at first, but someone burned something on top of the “1” that looked like either the letter “K” or the Roman numeral “VI.” Investigators called a lot of Little League officials in the area, but none of them could figure out who owned the bat.
The police thought that there were people in the area who knew what happened to Henry. William Carlin, the chief of police in Swampscott, said, “We do think that there are young people in this community who have not told us everything they know about this case.” We expect them to come forward.
As of January 1975, detectives were talking to dozens of teens who knew Henry again in the hopes of finding out something they missed the first time around. Again, everyone they talked to was happy to hear good things about Henry. He was one of the most well-liked kids in town.
Detectives were not able to find any suspects in the case, which upset Chief Carlin. He said, “The murder was one of the most vicious killings I can recall in my 26 years on the force.” Even worse was the fact that it happened to a good-behaved teen from a good family.
In an effort to find new clues, a local newspaper offered a $1,000 reward for information that led to the arrest and conviction of the people who killed Henry. People who gave information but wanted to stay anonymous were told to give a code name that could be used to get the reward if it led to an arrest.
Chief Carlin told reporters on January 9, 1975, that the murder weapon was being sent to the FBI’s crime lab in Washington, D.C., for more tests to make sure they hadn’t missed any possible clues. “It probably won’t help us find the criminal any faster, but it can take away any doubts we may have.”
Six weeks after Henry was killed, the police said they had given polygraph tests to nine teens. All of the teens had volunteered to take the tests so they would not be suspected. Chief Carlin said that the teens had been honest because the lie detector tests showed that. “Now that these teens are telling the truth and not hiding anything, we’re happy.”
You could win up to $10,000 if you could help find Henry’s killer by April 1975. Investigators hoped that the big reward would finally get someone who knew what happened to come forward and talk to them. All over the area, posters were put up with pictures of the murder weapon and information about the reward.
Even though the reward was raised, there weren’t many leads for long, and the investigation began to slow down. About a year after Henry’s death, detectives were still no closer to finding the person who killed him than they were the day his body was found. Reporters asked Henry Sr. if he thought police had done everything they could to find the person who killed his son but had been slowed down by the heavy rain that fell before Henry’s body was found. The family was still hopeful that the killer or killers would be caught soon. “This year has been hard.”
Chief Carlin said that he and only he wanted to solve the case, but he also said that they didn’t have any good leads. “There aren’t many realistic chances of solving the case—we’ve tried every possible lead and come up empty.”
The detectives still thought the bat was the most important piece of evidence, but they had been unable to find its owner even after sending pictures of it all over the country. Even though investigators kept getting together to go over the case file and talk about new information, it was clear that the case was losing its spark.
Henry and Gloria made the choice to leave Swampscott and the constant memory of their son’s murder in 1976. No matter where they lived in Florida, they never gave up hope that the person who killed their son would be caught and punished. Sad to say, their marriage quickly fell apart, and they got a divorce, just like so many other parents whose children have been killed.
In 1980, Chief Carlin stopped working as a police officer. He told reporters that the fact that the police couldn’t solve Henry’s murder was the worst thing that had happened to him in his career. “I understand the boy’s family. I am truly sorry that we have not been able to find a solution…There is still hope that someone will come forward with the clues we need to solve the case one day.
Henry’s case was back in the news in June 2001 when a woman told police that her ex-boyfriend had killed the teen. Since Rhonda Bowlidge had a history of lying to the police, she said she saw the murder while visiting a friend in Swampscott when she was 12 years old. She finally told the police that she made up the whole story, and she was arrested for lying to them.
Henry was brutally killed 30 years ago, and in December 2004, his family and friends remembered him. In recent months, detectives have looked at the case again and sent back some evidence for more advanced forensic testing that wasn’t possible in 1974. They wanted to finally find the person whose fingerprints were on the bloody bat that was found at the murder scene. Even after sending the evidence back to be tested again in 2010, they still didn’t know who killed Henry.
Henry’s case is still open and unsolved as of August 2023. Henry’s mother died in 2014, and she never found out who killed her son forty years before. He keeps the case in the public eye so that people don’t forget that Henry’s killer is still out there. This is done by his father, siblings, and old classmates.
Henry Bedard Jr. was killed very badly in Swampscott, Massachusetts, in December 1974. He was only 15 years old. He was a popular and friendly teenager who was great at sports and got along with everyone. His family never got over his death. His parents got a divorce and left the area. Friends and family of the man who killed him still hope that the people responsible will be caught and punished. Please call the Swampscott Police Department at 781–595–1111 if you know anything about Henry’s death.