4.3 min readBy Published On: May 28th, 2022Categories: News4 Comments on South Boston Murder Cold Case Solved

37 years later

Michael Lewis, 61, was arrested on Friday in South Boston and charged with the 1984 murder of Brian Watson, 23. Lewis was 24 at the time of the shooting.  Lewis is believed to have had ties with James “Whitey” Bulger.

See Press Release Below from DA’s office:

BOSTON, May 27, 2022—A grand jury on Friday returned a first-degree murder indictment against a Boston man for a 1984 shooting death over a South Boston drug-dealing dispute, Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden announced.

Michael Lewis, 61, was arrested in South Boston by Boston Police on Friday. He will be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on Tuesday. He is charged with shooting Brian Watson, 23, in July 1984.  Lewis was 24 at the time of the murder.

Hayden thanked the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office, the New Hampshire State Police, the Manchester N.H. police department, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston and Boston Police for helping secure the indictment in the 37-year-old case.

“This was a true team effort to help indict and charge a homicide that hearkens back to a very different Boston. Brian Watson was a young father cut down seemingly on a whim.  A remarkably cold-blooded whim.  Mr. Watson’s family has endured many, many years of loss and heartache.  At the very least, they now have some answers,” Hayden said.

“We are very pleased that an arrest has been made in this New Hampshire Cold Case. We hope that this significant development brings Brian Watson’s loved  ones one step closer to justice and closure,” said New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella. “This arrest represents a tremendous amount of hard work, cooperation and coordination between investigators in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, including our team at the New Hampshire Department of Justice. We cannot say enough about how grateful we are to have such strong regional law enforcement partnerships, from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and Boston Police Department, to our New Hampshire State Police and Manchester Police Department.”

Watson was last seen alive on July 16 or 17 of 1984.  His mother filed a missing person report with Boston Police on July 28, 1984.

Prosecutors allege that Lewis and another man, both of whom were involved in the South Boston drug trade, were driving on July 16 or 17 in South Boston in search of another drug dealer. Their purpose was to stop that dealer from operating in South Boston.  The second man was angry at the dealer because the dealer had told South Boston gang kingpin James “Whitey” Bulger and Bulger associate Kevin Weeks that he, the second man, was dealing angel dust in South Boston.  As a result, Bulger demanded $5,000 immediately from the second man, followed by $1,000 a week.

While looking for the dealer, Lewis and the second man encountered Brian Watson.   The second man asked Watson to lead them to the dealer. Watson agreed.  Watson entered the vehicle and sat in the back seat.

While the three men drove around South Boston, Lewis suddenly turned, shot and killed Watson.  The two then drove into New Hampshire and dumped Watson’s body off I-93 South in Manchester.

On September 16, 1984, a man who had pulled over on I-93 South in Manchester discovered a decomposed body, obscured by bushes and trees, about 40 feet from the road.   The man called 911. Manchester Police and New Hampshire State Police responded.  The body was eventually identified as Brian Watson through dental records.

A lengthy investigation by New Hampshire State Police, Manchester Police and Boston Police ensued.  Investigators made some headway but were unable to solve the case. Information developed through the US Attorney’s Office in Boston provided a significant break in the case in 2009, but still not enough to secure an indictment.

Further information developed by investigators this year provided sufficient evidence to move forward with Friday’s indictment of Lewis.

A 61-year-old man has been indicted on a murder charge in the 1984 shooting death of a man in South Boston, a crime investigators believe may have had ties to the criminal activities of the infamous James “Whitey” Bulger.

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office said that Michael Lewis is accused in the death of Brian Watson in July 1984, when Lewis was 24 and Watson was 23. Lewis was indicted by a grand jury Friday on a first-degree murder charge.

Prosecutors believe the killing stemmed from a drug-dealing dispute. Investigators allege that Lewis and another man were both involved in the Southie drug trade and were looking for another drug dealer in the area. The second man, who the DA did not identify, was allegedly angry with the dealer, who had reported his drug-dealing activities to Bulger and his associate Kevin Weeks. Bulger, who was a well-known crime boss in the area during that time period, was demanding money from the man for dealing angel dust in the area.

According to prosecutors, Lewis and his associate found Watson and asked him to bring them to the dealer. When Watson agreed and got in their car, Lewis shot him. His body was dumped off I-93 South in Manchester, New Hampshire. He would be reported missing by his mother in the coming days, but his body was not found until September 1984.


  1. Mark May 28, 2022 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    So who was the second man?

    • Joe Dizzo May 31, 2022 at 6:33 am - Reply

      I was thinking the same thing, but I think it was probably the person who offered up Shab Lewis to weasel out of something they got caught doing. I would not necessarily consider this as being solved

  2. Susan June 2, 2022 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    I would NOT say that this is solved on the word of a rat making a deal to get out of his own charges. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? My condolences to the Watson family for living with this for 37 years.

  3. Bill Williams July 4, 2023 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    This guy is in jail without bail for two murder charges on the word of two people who alleged he spoke to them about it?
    They never felt the need to reveal any of this until they were arrested and faced jail time themselves. Almost 40 years I forget hearsay that I heard last week.
    It’s insane this stuff can happen in the greatest Legal Country in the World.
    It’s horrible people have to deal with loss-
    There should be more than just a ferret trying to maneuver out of there own legal troubles

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