When neighbors in the Cook Street area started seeing more activity on the weekends at 6 Mystic Place over the last few months – things like caterers putting out huge garbage bags of food and trash in front of other people’s homes on Sundays – many said they knew it spelled aggravation, but few could have predicted it would lead to a grisly homicide taking place in their out-of-the-way neighborhood on a dead-end street no wider than a school corridor.
It is exactly what has happened though, as Jawad Muhammad, 33, of Mattapan, was reported to have been murdered inside the home at the end of the private way on Saturday, around 3:21 a.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Boston Police – who said no arrests had been made as of Wednesday morning in the case.
For the neighbors in the area, most of whom know one another quite well, and whose streets and thoroughfares are so narrow that few things happen without being noticed, there has seemingly been some things amiss leading up to the murder.
What has been noticed over the last few months is more short-term rentals, and in a small neighborhood in this part of Charlestown, many are worried about what such activities bring – and their greatest fears were realized Saturday night when chaos erupted at what many say was a home being used as a short-term rental while the owner played professional hockey in Finland.
“I’m very concerned about short-term rentals in a residential neighborhood,” said one neighbor. “You don’t know who is coming there at any time, and you don’t even know sometimes that it is an Airbnb until something like this happens. We’ve had other Airbnbs in the neighborhood and they come all the time and park in front of your house. They get lost on our streets.”
Added another neighbor, “Sometimes they even have them in the same houses where there are families and children. Anybody could be coming there for the night – even a child molester. You don’t know.”
The home at 6 Mystic Place where the homicide occurred is on a very small street – as stated above – and is owned by Brendan Yip, according to City assessing records. He purchased it in 2013, but after a career at Boston University and several stints with NHL teams, he has been playing pro hockey in China for a few years. This year he has been playing in Finland. Many neighbors said in the past, he allegedly had rented out the home in his absence to members of the Boston Bruins who needed a place to live during the hockey season. However, more than a few neighbors said that didn’t happen this year, and they said it seemed there was trouble getting someone to rent the home. Based on the frequent weekend activities they have been seeing, they believe the property was offered as a short-term rental, such as on Airbnb.
Yip could not be reached for comment on his social media handles, and there was no way to get in touch via his team in Finland via their website.
The Boston Police and Inspectional Services (ISD) would not comment on the use of the property during the time of the homicide, but a search of the City’s new short-term rental registry did not turn up 6 Mystic Place. As part of new rules for short-term rentals enacted in January 2019, there are strict standards for renting out a short-term rental, including being owner-occupied as a precaution for preventing “party houses” and unsupervised rentals. The six restrictions, in addition to registering the unit with the City, include:
•No affordability covenant restrictions.
•Compliance with housing laws and codes.
•No violations of laws regarding short-term rental use.
•Two- or three-family dwelling.
•Residential use classification.
A number of neighbors that spoke with the paper said they had seen some party activity on the weekends recently, after the home being rather quiet for months and a “caretaker” living there for a while before that.
As recently as the weekend before last, there seemed to be a party in the home, and afterward, those renting the home were seen taking large bags of food and trash out of the house and putting it in front of homes on Cook Street. The leaked stains from those bags of food could still be seen on the street of Mystic Place, and also on the sidewalk where they had sat more than a week before.
So it seemed again last Saturday morning there had been another party happening at the home – which given the cramped quarters of the street was very noticeable.
The Boston Police call records are not available this week due to technical issues with their system, but online publication 617Boston reported that there had been a response to the street earlier in the night, but nothing out of line was detected.
Later in the night, shots rang out and police flooded the area just after those in the home fled in all directions, according to neighbors. Officers responded to the radio call for a person shot inside the home at 3:21 a.m. They located the adult male inside the home upon arrival and found him suffering from a gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead on the scene, and no one was found in the home and no gun was recovered at the scene.
Several neighbors reported that a white car was seen driving around the tight streets early in the morning after the shooting, and apparently might be connected to the investigation. There have been numerous surveillance videos from all over the scene apparently secured by police as well.
That said, the investigation continues, and neighbors in the area worry about what other homes might be used – perhaps also hosting guests or parties or other gatherings without their knowledge.
“The City needs to do something about these rentals,” said another neighbor. “A residential neighborhood off the beaten path isn’t a place for a hotel-like set-up.”
The Boston Police Department is actively reviewing the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident and is asking anyone with information relative to this investigation to contact Boston Police Homicide Detectives at (617) 343-4470.
Community members wishing to assist this investigation anonymously can do so by calling the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 1 (800) 494-TIPS or by texting the word ‘TIP’ to CRIME (27463). The Boston Police Department will stringently guard and protect the identities of all those who wish to assist this investigation in an anonymous manner.
To those who find themselves in need of emotional support or simply needing to talk to someone about distressing events in our community, the Boston Neighborhood Trauma Team (NTT) provides free, private support 24/7 at (617) 431-0125 or by visiting BPHC.org/trauma.