Mystic River is set in a Boston community which is rocked by the fatal shooting of a young woman. Everyone begins to suspect Dave, who was seen with the victim before the murder and then came home later with an injured hand and blood on his clothes, supposedly from a mugging.

As the cops investigate the murder, several days go by. Eventually the young woman's grief-stricken father confronts Dave, who then says he got the injury and blood from killing a child molester who he saw with an under-age prostitute. The story seems unbelievable, and the grief-stricken father kills Dave.

Of course, the very next day, the cops announce that they caught someone else who confessed to killing the young woman -- and by the way, in an unrelated case, a child molester had been killed that same night, and the cops suspect Dave did it.

Why hadn't anyone in the entire movie -- particularly the cops -- mentioned that there had been a second murder (the child molester) on the same night as the young woman was killed, presumably in the same vicinity where Dave had been?

3 Answers 3


They hadn't mentioned it before because they didn't know about it. The molester's body wasn't found until the morning that Sean went to talk to Jimmy. Sean says "Look at me. I got a call from Celeste Boyle. She was hysterical. She said Dave's missing. Said you might know where he is. We need to talk to him. Boston police found the body of a guy this morning. In the woods behind McGill's." Since the body was just found that morning, it makes sense that only Dave mentions it before - he's the only one who knows that they guy is dead. You can read the scene here - it starts on page 114 but Sean's quote is on 116.


Excellent answer djmadscribbler, except for one detail, and probably why Shiz Z. asked the question: Although the script states that the BPD found the pedophile's body that morning, Kevin Bacon left off the "this morning" phrase from the line in the movie. He actually states "Boston Police found the body of a guy, a pedophile, in the woods behind McGill's. They want to talk to Dave about it."

However, I unconsciously made that exact assumption when I watched the movie recently, so I think it would have been a reasonable one, even if it was not in the script.

  • 1
    I guess "this morning" would have helped, but the ending would still frustrate me as a viewer because it hinges on not just one but two very unlikely events: (1) a second murder having happened on same night as the first, and also (2) second murder undiscovered until just after Dave's death. To me, this felt like the screenplay cheated its way to resolution -- and I can't believe such a movie won Best Picture.
    – Shiz Z.
    Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 21:10
  • Point taken, I think I commented on another post either concerning this movie or another similar movie situation where I offered that this a really just a writer's technique to make everything seem to work. Either they never think about how realistic it is to the viewer or they simply think the viewer won't notice. Definitely a good catch on your part! Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 2:30
  • I also think the better plot twist or ending to the movie would be to make you think Dave really DIDN'T do it but then at the last second you find out he did. Maybe Sean Penn's character goes to jail for murdering Dave and nobody but the viewers ever know the truth. Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 2:34
  • Totally agree about Dave having done it -- in fact, until the end, that's where I thought the movie was going, and I loved it -- such an unusual plot.
    – Shiz Z.
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 17:06
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    Boston is a pretty major US city. Usually 100 to 150 murders per year, possibly more for when the movie is set. Having more than one murder on a given night is not THAT implausible. Unusual? Well, of course, it wouldn't be a surprise ending if it was something completely normal. Name any movie with a surprise/twist ending that consists of completely average circumstances. That pretty much precludes the whole concept of a twist, doesn't it? Is it implausible to the level of almost seeming like magic? No. Plus grit, tension and great acting. Very deserving of Best Picture. Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 16:21

Dave was the same child molester he talked about. After he was abducted by those guys in the opening scene, he changed into a complete person. He attacked himself that night when Katie was murdered by those kids. That's why cops didn't get any news or body about that mugger Dave told about. Dave was fighting himself a war as a child molester. He fake admitted that he was the one who killed Katie so that he could escape his current life.

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    This ignores the fact that Dave's body was left at a different place than where the molester's body was found. Oh, and this line of dialogue would be nonsense: "Boston Police found the body of a guy, a pedophile, in the woods behind McGill's. They want to talk to Dave about it." Why post an answer that is contradicted by the movie itself?
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 13:12

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