BOSTON, DEC. 4 -- There were no graveside tributes to Kimberly Rae Harbour from public officials or neighborhood activists. In all likelihood, there will be no made-for-TV movie, no scholarship foundations in her memory and no earnest forums on the meaning of her death.
Although the victim of a horrifying crime, Harbour probably will never gain the fame awarded Carol Stuart, the young white attorney gunned down in Boston last year, apparently by her husband. Harbour will never know an outpouring of public sympathy such as that accorded the victim of New York's Central Park "wilding" case.
Harbour, 26, died on Halloween night, after being set upon by eight young men, beaten with a tree limb, stabbed, raped repeatedly and left naked. Police said she had been robbed of $1 but otherwise offered no motive.
Already, her death has been overshadowed in Boston's news media by a rash of homicides that has pushed the city's total to a record 137 killings this year. In 1973, the city logged 135 killings.
Today, a coalition of prominent women invoked Harbour's memory to demand more attention to the issue of violence against women and more resources to address the problem.
At a news conference, they called for a "women's liaison committee" in the police department, use of public schools to teach respect for women, "candid discussions" by city leaders and clergy "about the horror represented by Kimberly Harbour's death" and stiffer penalties for men who attack women.
In 1973, most homicides involved white men older than 40 killing other white men, according to Boston police. This year, most have involved victims and suspects under 30, including 14 juveniles, and nearly two-thirds of the victims and three-fourths of the suspects were black.
The surge in violence has led to calls for a citywide curfew on teenagers and for a new state law that would try juvenile murder suspects as adults.
"We are very deeply disturbed about the intolerable rate of homicide, but we are not going to quit," Mayor Raymond Flynn (D) told reporters after a recent "anti-crime summit" with federal, state and local leaders.
But officials admit that they are perplexed about the causes of youthful violence, and, with limited city and state funds available, there is little talk of ambitious new programs. "The reality is, there is crime, there is sin," Police Commissioner Francis Roache said with an air of resignation.
Standing beside Flynn, Roache asked Congress and President Bush to help by enacting a seven-day waiting period to buy firearms. "I can't understand why public safety has taken a back seat in this country to the gun lobby," Roache said.
Much of the furor about violence here dates from the sensational killing Oct. 23, 1989, of Stuart, shot while heading home to the suburbs from a birthing class with her husband, Charles. On Jan. 4, he apparently committed suicide after learning that he was the prime suspect.
For more than two months, Stuart had bamboozled police and the media with a simple hoax: He described an interracial attack by a stranger. That did not happen in the Stuart case, and Boston officials say it almost never happens here.
According to a report on the 108 homicides in the first nine months of this year, 82 percent involved acquaintances, almost always of the same race. Where race could be determined, the study found no killings of blacks by whites and five killings of whites by blacks. It also found that deaths by firearms had increased by 69 percent, compared with a year earlier, and that the numbers of juvenile offenders and victims had doubled.
Although Harbour's body was found the next morning, officials said little until Nov. 19, when police arrested eight suspects, ages 15 to 19, most of whom live in a housing development near the scene of the incident. Only then did police divulge details about the killing that elevated it to front-page news.
In the black community, some leaders complained that police should have publicized the case sooner to warn other women of possible danger, and a few called for Roache's ouster.
They charged that, had Harbour been a white lawyer, like Carol Stuart, or a white investment banker, like the Central Park victim, her death would have received more attention. Instead, because she was black, a "crack" user and sometime prostitute, they said, her death was played down.
Police officials and their defenders responded by saying they had tried to learn from the Stuart case. Rather than seek headlines, which might have warned the suspects to flee, police said they discreetly went about trying to solve the crime.
Five days after the arrests, Hector Morales, 19, a Hispanic and a gang member, was shot to death in a sidewalk gun battle with police after he opened fire with a sawed-off shotgun on two plainclothes officers, police said.
Some witnesses said Morales was down and pleading for his life when the officers fired the fatal shots, and some Hispanic leaders accused police of using "excessive force." Many others rallied around the officers. Included was Larry Brown, head of the state Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers.
Mayor Flynn, who habitually roams the streets, said he was physically threatened recently by a gang member but promised to "stand right up to any gang member at all."
Facing a reelection bid next year, Flynn also is in line to become president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in June. While aides say he is eager to serve as a national advocate for cities, crime wars at home may force him to take a reduced role.