True Tales of Murder and Mayhem
Boston’s 25 most sensational, notorious, infamous, and sometimes just downright weird crimes of all time.
Hell at Harvard (1995)
Sinedu Tadesse, a quiet Harvard premed student, sent a photo of herself to the Harvard Crimson along with a note: “There will soon be a very juicy story involving the person in this picture.” The next week, Tadesse, 20, shocked the university when she brutally stabbed and killed her roommate, Trang Phuong Ho, in their Dunster House dorm room, then hanged herself in the bathroom. In light of the tragedy, Harvard officials sought to provide more mental-health resources for struggling students. —A.T.
The Swedish Nanny (1996)
Karina Holmer, 19, was a nanny for a family in Dover. Just three months after her arrival in the U.S. from Sweden, she was last seen near Zanzibar, a popular Boston nightclub. Holmer was strangled before her killer severed her body at the waist, wrapped half of it in a black plastic bag, and left it in a dumpster. The rest of Holmer’s remains—and her killer—have never been found. —A.T.
The Ziti of Madness (1995)
Richard Rosenthal, a financial officer at John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance, murdered his wife, Laura, after she accused him of burning their ziti dinner. Rosenthal beat Laura with a rock before using a butcher knife to cut open her chest, gruesomely removing her heart and lungs and impaling them on a wooden stake in their Framingham backyard. —A.T.
A Deadly Domme? (2000)
Professional dominatrix Barbara Asher was charged with involuntary manslaughter after her client Michael Lord died of a heart attack in her Quincy condo. Prosecutors accused Asher of failing to help Lord, claiming that she and her boyfriend tried to hide Lord’s death by dismembering his body and dumping it in a trash bin in Augusta, Maine. They based their claims on Asher’s alleged confession to police, which officers failed to record or document. Without evidence or Lord’s remains, Asher was acquitted in 2006. —A.T.
The Con Man (1995–2008)
By the time Christian Gerhartsreiter arrived in Boston, the German con man was known as Clark Rockefeller, claiming he was related to the famous family. A messy divorce in 2007 left his ex-wife with full custody of their daughter Reigh. In 2008, Gerhartsreiter kidnapped Reigh and brought her to Maryland, where he was arrested days later. Convicted of kidnapping, he was later also convicted of the murder of a California man in the 1980s. —A.T.