Evelyn Wagler – Caught In a Game Of Hate
In late September, 1973, Evelyn Wagler had just moved from Chicago to Boston’s Blue Hill Avenue neighborhood. She was white and living in a mostly African-American neighborhood. She had separated from her husband and child, and was seeking employment in Boston.
Wagler had lived in a black neighborhood in Chicago and did not feel threatened or out of place in the Blue Hill District. She moved in with other roommates and was settling quite nicely into her new environment.
October 2nd, 1973
At about 9:00 pm on October 2nd, Evelyn ran out of gas near her house while borrowing a car. She walked eleven blocks to a gas station carrying a small empty gas can. The neighborhood was mostly boarded up and run down. Empty storefronts and steel shutters marked the landscape. Night walkers and dope dealers greeted her in the dark.
On Evelyn’s return journey, six black teenagers confronted her. They forced her down a dark alley and behind a building. They struck her as they shouted racial slurs. The teenagers then demanded she pour the gasoline on herself. Out of fear, Evelyn Wagler complied by dousing herself with the gas in the can. One teenager then flicked a match at Evelyn and she burst into flames. The teenagers scurried away in laughter.
Evelyn Wagler Tried To save Herself
Wagler tried in vain to roll on the ground and put out the fire. She was receiving second and third degree burns all over her body. Charred and smoldering, with her hair burnt down to her scalp and face blackened, she crossed the street and made her way to a liquor store. She calmly asked, “Will you please call an ambulance?” and then left the store. Bystanders grabbed a coat and covered her. She was taken to a local emergency room by a policeman. She told the police about the attack and told them that she had been previously warned by three of those teenagers to leave the neighborhood. Evelyn Wagler died four hours later.
Her killers were never revealed.
credit – celebrate boston