NY Times Piece on Rhode Island Murder

In case you missed it: a powerful piece in the New York Times by a Rhode Island woman, now living in Brooklyn, meeting the Providence Journal reporter who wrote about her mother's murder many years ago.

In the journalist’s articles, drawn in part from reams of disturbingly graphic grand jury testimony, he described how my mother’s face turned purple as the two men twisted a towel around her neck, and how one of them, for leverage, put his foot against her face while saying: “Come on, you rat. Give me the death rattle.”

I was 4 when my mother died. My memory of her is fuzzy, though I can see glimpses of her: standing next to me on the city bus as we lurched through Providence; reading aloud to me from a picture book; in silhouette, smoking a cigarette by the front door of our tiny house in Cranston, R.I.

Over the following years, my father (who soon remarried, bringing me a new family) did not speak to me about my mother’s death, except to lie that she died in a car accident. My questions to him and to my maternal grandparents about her “accident” prompted only whispers and tight smiles. They were happy to tell me of my mother’s love of animals and the way her tiny frame seemed to fill a room with happiness. But the subject of her death led only to unease and silence.

It wasn’t until I was 9 that the journalist’s article revisiting her death as part of a larger article about murder, organized crime and corruption was spread across the pages of The Providence Journal, and my father thought he could no longer spare me from the truth.

“There is a story in the paper today,” he said to me. “And we have to talk about something very difficult.”

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