Is Winston Moseley Still Alive Kitty Genovese Family Interview Catherine Susan Kitty Genovese Who Killed Kitty Genovese Barbara Kralik Murder Silent Witnesses the Kitty Genovese Murder Winston Moseley Bio Pauline Moseley
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from March 27, 1964 New York Times article: "37 Who Saw Murder Didn't Call the Police"
|Born||Catherine Susan Genovese
July 7, 1935
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||March 13, 1964
Kew Gardens, New York, U.S.
Cause of death
|Murder by stabbing|
New Canaan, Connecticut
|Education||Prospect Heights High School|
|Employer||Ev's Eleventh Hour Club
Hollis, New York, U.S.
|Known for||New York Times article about her murder|
|Partner(s)||Mary Ann Zielonko|
Catherine Susan "Kitty" Genovese (July 7, 1935 – March 13, 1964) was a New York City woman who was stabbed to death near her home in the Kew Gardens, neighborhood of the borough of Queens in New York City, on March 13, 1964, by Winston Moseley.
Two weeks after the murder, a newspaper article reported the circumstances of her murder and the lack of reaction from numerous neighbors. The common portrayal of her neighbors as being fully aware but completely unresponsive has since been criticized as inaccurate. Nonetheless, it prompted investigation into the social psychological phenomenon that has become known as the bystander effect or "Genovese syndrome" and especially diffusion of responsibility.
Genovese's killer, Winston Moseley, was found guilty and sentenced to death on June 15, 1964. That sentence was later reduced to lifetime imprisonment on the grounds that he had not been allowed to argue during the trial that he was "medically insane". Moseley committed another series of crimes when he escaped from custody on March 18, 1968, and then fled to a nearby vacant home, where he held the owners hostage. On March 22, he broke into another home and took a woman and her daughter hostage before surrendering to police. Moseley, who was denied parole for a seventeenth time in December 2013, remains in prison.
Born in New York City, the daughter of Rachel (née Petrolli) and Vincent Andronelle Genovese, Kitty was the eldest of five children in a lower-middle-class Italian American family and was raised in Park Slope, Brooklyn. After her mother witnessed a murder in the city, the family moved to Connecticut in 1954. Genovese, nineteen at the time and a recent graduate of Prospect Heights High School in Brooklyn, chose to remain in the city, where she had lived for nine years. At the time of her death, she was working as a bar manager at Ev's Eleventh Hour Sports Bar on Jamaica Avenue and 193rd Street in Hollis, Queens. Genovese shared her Kew Gardens, Queens, apartment at 80-20 Austin Street with her partner, Mary Ann Zielonko.
The events of Genovese's death are subject to dispute. Some accounts suggest that her cries for help were heard and ignored by numerous residents in the apartment building. Other accounts suggest that residents did not hear her pleas or did provide assistance or both. The exact details are unknown.
Genovese had driven home from her job working as a bar manager early in the morning of March 13, 1964. Arriving home at about 3:15 a.m., she parked in the Long Island Rail Road parking lot about 100 feet (30 m) from her apartment's door, located in an alley way at the rear of the building. As she walked toward the building, she was approached by Winston Moseley. Frightened, Genovese began to run across the parking lot and toward the front of her building located on Austin Street, trying to make it up to the corner toward the major thoroughfare of Lefferts Boulevard. Moseley ran after her, quickly overtook her and stabbed her twice in the back. Genovese screamed, "Oh my God, he stabbed me! Help me!" Her cry was heard by several neighbors but, on a cold night with the windows closed, only a few of them recognized the sound as a cry for help. When Robert Mozer, one of the neighbors, shouted at the attacker, "Let that girl alone!" Moseley ran away and Genovese slowly made her way toward the rear entrance of her apartment building. She was seriously injured, but now out of view of any witnesses.
Records of the earliest calls to police are unclear and were not given a high priority by the police. One witness said his father called police after the initial attack and reported that a woman was "beat up, but got up and was staggering around."
Other witnesses observed Moseley enter his car and drive away, only to return ten minutes later. In his car, he changed to a wide-brimmed hat to shadow his face. He systematically searched the parking lot, train station, and an apartment complex. Eventually, he found Genovese who was lying, barely conscious, in a hallway at the back of the building where a locked doorway had prevented her from entering the building. Out of view of the street and of those who may have heard or seen any sign of the original attack, Moseley proceeded to further attack her, stabbing her several more times. Knife wounds in her hands suggested that she attempted to defend herself from him. While Genovese lay dying, Moseley raped her. He stole about $49 from her and left her in the hallway. The attacks spanned approximately half an hour.
A few minutes after the final attack, a witness, Karl Ross, called the police. Police arrived within minutes of Ross' call. Genovese was taken away by ambulance at 4:15 a.m. and died en route to the hospital. Later investigation by police and prosecutors revealed that approximately a dozen (but almost certainly not the 38 cited in the Times article) individuals nearby had heard or observed portions of the attack, though none saw or were aware of the entire incident. Only one witness, Joseph Fink, was aware she was stabbed in the first attack, and only Karl Ross was aware of it in the second attack. Many were entirely unaware that an assault or homicide was in progress; some thought that what they saw or heard was a lovers' quarrel or a drunken brawl or a group of friends leaving the bar when Moseley first approached Genovese.
Booking photograph (April 1, 1964)
|Born||March 2, 1935|
|Residence||Clinton Correctional Facility|
|Occupation||Remington-Rand machine operator|
|Murder A1 (degree-less prior to September 1, 1974 in State of New York)
Robbery (second degree)
Attempted kidnapping (second degree)
|Death reduced to life plus two 15-year sentences|
Winston Moseley (born March 2, 1935), a then 29-year-old man from South Ozone Park, Queens, was apprehended by police during a house burglary six days after Genovese's murder. At the time of his arrest, Moseley was working as a "Remington Rand tab operator", had no prior criminal record, and was married with two children.
While in custody, Moseley confessed to killing Genovese. He detailed the attack, corroborating the physical evidence at the scene. His motive for the attack was simply "to kill a woman." Moseley preferred to kill women because, he said, "they were easier and didn't fight back". Moseley stated that he got up that night around 2:00 a.m., leaving his wife asleep at home, and drove around to find a victim. He spied Genovese and followed her to the parking lot. He confessed to the murder of not only Kitty Genovese, but also two other murders of women, both involving sexual assaults. He also confessed to committing "30 to 40" burglaries. Subsequent psychiatric examinations suggested that Moseley was a necrophile.
Moseley's trial began on June 8, 1964, and was presided over by Judge J. Irwin Shapiro. Moseley initially pleaded "not guilty", but his plea was later changed by his attorney to "not guilty by reason of insanity". On Thursday, June 11, Moseley was called to testify by his attorney who hoped that Moseley's testimony would convince the jury that he was "a schizophrenic personality and legally insane". During his testimony, Moseley described the events on the night he murdered Genovese, along with the two other murders to which he had confessed and numerous other burglaries and rapes. The jury deliberated for seven hours before returning a guilty verdict on June 11 at around 10:30 p.m.
On Monday, June 15, 1964, Moseley was sentenced to death. When the sentence was read by the jury foreman, Moseley showed no emotion while some spectators applauded and others cheered. When calm had returned, Judge Shapiro added, "I don't believe in capital punishment, but when I see this monster, I wouldn't hesitate to pull the switch myself!" On June 1, 1967, the New York Court of Appeals found that Moseley should have been able to argue that he was "medically insane" at the sentencing hearing when the trial court found that he had been legally sane, and the initial death sentence was reduced to an indeterminate sentence/lifetime imprisonment.
On March 18, 1968, Moseley escaped from custody while being transported back to prison from Meyer Memorial Hospital in Buffalo, New York, where he had undergone minor surgery for a self-inflicted injury. Moseley hit the transporting correctional officer, stole his weapon, and then fled to a nearby vacant home owned by a Grand Island couple, Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Kulaga. Moseley stayed at the residence undetected for three days. On March 21, the Kulagas went to check on the home where they encountered Moseley. He held the couple hostage for over an hour during which he bound and gagged Matthew Kulaga and raped his wife. He then took the couple's car and fled. Moseley made his way to Grand Island where, on March 22, he broke into another home and took a woman and her daughter hostage. He held them hostage for two hours before releasing them unharmed. Moseley surrendered to police shortly thereafter. He was later charged with escape and kidnapping to which he pleaded guilty. Moseley was given two additional fifteen-year sentences concurrent with his life sentence.
Moseley became eligible for parole in 1984. During his first parole hearing, Moseley told the parole board that the notoriety he faced due to his crimes made him a victim also, stating, "For a victim outside, it's a one-time or one-hour or one-minute affair, but for the person who's caught, it's forever." At the same hearing, Moseley claimed he never intended to kill Genovese and that he considered her murder to be a mugging because "[...] people do kill people when they mug them sometimes." The board denied his request for parole. Moseley remains in prison after being denied parole a seventeenth time in December 2013.
At first, the murder of Genovese did not receive much media attention. It took a remark from Police Commissioner Michael J. Murphy to New York Times metropolitan editor A. M. Rosenthal over lunch – Rosenthal later quoted Murphy as saying, "That Queens story is one for the books" – to provoke the Times into publishing an investigative report.
The article, written by Martin Gansberg and published on March 27, 1964, two weeks after the murder, bore the headline "Thirty-Seven Who Saw Murder Didn't Call the Police". (It has been variously quoted and reproduced since 1964 with a headline that begins "Thirty-Eight Who Saw ...", apparently to try to make it consistent with other sources.) The public view of the story crystallized around a quote from the article by an unidentified neighbor who saw part of the attack but deliberated before finally getting another neighbor to call the police, saying, "I didn't want to get involved." Many then saw the story of Genovese's murder as emblematic of the callousness or apathy of life in big cities, and New York in particular.
Science-fiction author and cultural provocateur Harlan Ellison, in articles published in 1970 and 1971 in the Los Angeles Free Press and in Rolling Stone, referred to the witnesses as "thirty-six motherfuckers" and stated that they "stood by and watched" Genovese "get knifed to death right in front of them, and wouldn't make a move" and that "thirty-eight people watched" Genovese "get knifed to death in a New York street". In an article in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (June 1988), later reprinted in his book Harlan Ellison's Watching, Ellison referred to the murder as "witnessed by thirty-eight neighbors," citing reports he claimed to have read that one man turned up his radio so that he would not hear Genovese's screams. Ellison says that the reports attributed the "get involved" quote to nearly all of the thirty-eight who supposedly witnessed the attack.
While Genovese's neighbors were vilified by the articles, "thirty-eight onlookers who did nothing" is a misconception. The New York Times article begins:
The lead is dramatic but factually inaccurate. A 2007 study found many of the purported facts about the murder to be unfounded. The study found "no evidence for the presence of 38 witnesses, or that witnesses observed the murder, or that witnesses remained inactive".
None of the witnesses observed the attacks in their entirety. Because of the layout of the complex and the fact that the attacks took place in different locations, no witness saw the entire sequence of events. Most only heard portions of the incident without realizing its seriousness, a few saw only small portions of the initial assault, and no witnesses directly saw the final attack and rape, in an exterior hallway. Additionally, after the initial attack punctured her lungs, leading to her eventual death from asphyxiation, it is unlikely that she was able to scream at any volume. Only one witness, Joseph Fink, was aware she was stabbed in the first attack, and only Karl Ross (the neighbor who called police) was aware of it in the second attack. Many were entirely unaware that an assault or homicide was in progress; some thought that what they saw or heard was a lovers' quarrel or a drunken brawl or a group of friends leaving the bar when Moseley first approached Genovese.
Nevertheless, media attention to the Genovese murder led to reform of the NYPD's telephone reporting system; the system in place at the time of the assault was often hostile to callers, inefficient, and directed individuals to the incorrect department. The intense press coverage also led to serious investigation of the bystander effect by psychologists and sociologists. In addition, some communities organized Neighborhood Watch programs and the equivalent for apartment buildings to aid people in distress.
The lack of reaction of numerous neighbors watching the scene prompted research into diffusion of responsibility and the bystander effect. Social psychologists John Darley and Bibb Latané started this line of research, showing that contrary to common expectations, larger numbers of bystanders decrease the likelihood that someone will step forward and help a victim. The reasons include the fact that onlookers see that others are not helping either, that onlookers believe others will know better how to help, and that onlookers feel uncertain about helping while others are watching. The Kitty Genovese case thus became a classic feature of social psychology textbooks.
In September 2007, the American Psychologist published an examination of the factual basis of coverage of the Kitty Genovese murder in psychology textbooks. The three authors concluded that the story is more parable than fact, largely because of inaccurate newspaper coverage at the time of the incident. According to the authors, "despite this absence of evidence, the story continues to inhabit our introductory social psychology textbooks (and thus the minds of future social psychologists)." One interpretation of the parable is that the drama and ease of teaching the exaggerated story make it easier for professors to capture student attention and interest.
Psychologist Frances Cherry has suggested the interpretation of the murder as an issue of bystander intervention is incomplete. She has pointed to additional research such as that of Borofsky and Shotland demonstrating that people, especially at that time, were unlikely to intervene if they believed a man was attacking his wife or girlfriend. She has suggested that the issue might be better understood in terms of male/female power relations.
According to The New York Times, in an article dated December 28, 1974, ten years after the murder, 25-year-old Sandra Zahler was beaten to death early Christmas morning in an apartment of the building that overlooked the site of the Genovese attack. Neighbors again said they heard screams and "fierce struggles" but did nothing.
Moseley returned for another parole hearing on March 13, 2008, the 44th anniversary of Genovese's murder. The previous week, Moseley had turned 73 years old, and had still shown little remorse for murdering Genovese. Parole was denied. Genovese's brother, Vincent, was unaware of the 2008 hearing until he was contacted by Daily News reporters. Vincent Genovese has reportedly never "recovered from the horror" of his sister's murder. "This brings back what happened to her", Vincent had said; "the whole family remembers".
The story of the witnesses who did nothing "is taught in every [sic] introduction-to-psychology textbook in the United States and Britain, and in many other countries... and has been made popularly known through television programs and books," and even songs.