On March 27, 1964, Catherine (Kitty) Genovese returned home from her work managing a Queens bar. It was around 3:20 a.m. when she parked her car and walked toward her apartment in the Kew Gardens neighborhood of Queens, New York.
The Attack on Kitty Genovese
She noticed a man loitering nearby who soon moved to intercept her. The man attacked her and she screamed. Lights in the nearby apartments came on and people looked outside.
“Oh, my God, he stabbed me! Please help me! Please help me!” Genovese screamed.
A man yelled from one of the apartments, “Leave that girl alone!”
The attacker ran off and the neighbors went back to bed.
The Murder of Kitty Genovese
A short time later the killer returned and attacked Genovese again and again she screamed. Lights in nearby apartments came on and once again people looked out at the attack. This time the killer the killer succeeded and murdered and raped Genovese.
One person did call police who arrived within two minutes, but by then it was too late. Genovese died on the ambulance ride to the hospital.
When witnesses were questioned as to why they did nothing, the most-common response was that they didn’t want to get involved.
Assistant Chief Inspector Frederick Lussen said, “ a phone call (during the attack) would have saved the girl’s life.”
Winston Moseley, 29, was arrested for the murder. He was a business machine operator who was arrested later on burglary charges. He confessed to the Genovese murder and two others that also involved sexual assault. Psychiatric exams suggested he was a necrophile. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
Married, Moseley had gotten up at 2 a.m. that night, left his wife sleeping and set out to kill a woman. He found Genovese.
Though his own testimony at his trial proved he was the murderer, his death sentence was reduced to a life sentence in 1967. He tried to escape from prison in 1968, managing to take five hostages and rape one of them before being recaptured.
He was denied parole for the thirteenth time in March 2008.
Response to the Murder
In the weeks following, the murder of Kitty Genovese was not the story so much as the witnesses lack of help. The United Press International report read, “38 residents of a middle class New York neighborhood watched a killer stalk a 28-year old woman for more than 30 minutes before he killed her and none of them even called for help.”
The country’s shock at how witnesses failed to help Genovese led to a nationwide effort, particularly in New York City, to fight apathy about crime.
Started campaign against apathy against crime
How the story has changed
As more investigations and evidence have come to light about the story, it has altered somewhat. For instance, it was originally reported that Moseley made three attacks against Genovese. It is now known that they were only two attacks. Also, though it was originally reported that 38 people saw the murder, it is now believed that the number was around 12 and none of them saw the entire attack.
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