To those of us of a certain generation, who grew up in the NY City area, the name Kitty Genovese brings chills to the spine.
One of my first memories, when I must have been about 5 (I can place the age mostly because of where we were living at the time) was hearing of some woman strangled. I don’t recall the name of the women, and probably was not told by my parents, but given the timeline, that woman likely was Kitty Genovese.
This March 27, 1964 NY Times report tells the story, 37 Who Saw Murder Didn’t Call the Police:
For more than half an hour 38 respectable, law‐abiding citizens in Queens watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks in Kew Gardens.
Twice the sound of their voices and the sudden glow of their bedroom Iights interrupted him and frightened him off. Each time he returned, sought her out and stabbed her again. Not one person telephoned ‐ the police during the assault; one witness called after the woman was dead.
That was two weeks ago to day. But Assistant Chief Inspector Frederick M. Lussen, in charge of the borough’s detectives and a veteran of 25 years of homicide investigations, is still shocked.
He can give a matter‐of‐fact recitation of many murders. But the Kew Gardens slaying baffles him‐not because it is a murder, but because the “good people” failed to call the police.
“As we have reconstructed the crime,” he said, “the assailant had three chances to kill this woman during a 35‐minute period. He returned twice to complete the job. If we had been called when he first attacked, the woman might not be dead now.”
The Times story of 37 witnesses has been questioned, but the narrative lives on. The crime launched many studies into the “bystander effect.”
Oh, look outside the window
There’s a woman being grabbed
They’ve dragged her to the bushes
And now she’s being stabbed
Maybe we should call the cops
And try to stop the pain
But Monopoly is so much fun
I’d hate to blow the game
And I’m sure
It wouldn’t interest anybody
Outside of a small circle of friends
Kitty Genovese’s killer was arrested and convicted. Yesterday he died:
Winston Moseley, who stalked, raped and killed Kitty Genovese in a prolonged knife attack in New York in 1964 while neighbors failed to act on her desperate cries for help — a nightmarish tableau that came to symbolize urban apathy in America — died on March 28, in prison. He was 81….
Mr. Moseley, a psychopathic serial killer and necrophiliac, died at the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., near the Canadian border. He had been imprisoned for almost 52 years, since July 7, 1964, and was one of the state’s longest-serving inmates.
His life behind bars had been relatively eventful. Mr. Moseley was condemned to die in the electric chair, but in 1967, two years after New York State abolished most capital punishments, he won an appeal that reduced his sentence to an indeterminate life term. While at Attica Correctional Facility, in 1968, he escaped while on a hospital visit to Buffalo, raped a woman and held hostages at gunpoint before being recaptured. He joined in the 1971 Attica uprising; earned a college degree in 1977; and was rejected 18 times at parole hearings, the last time in 2015.
Mug shot and crime scene photos here.
Rest in Peace, Kitty. Rot in hell, Winston.
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