Little Bits of History

Kitty Genovese

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 13, 2014
Kitty Genovese

Kitty Genovese

March 13, 1964: Kitty Genovese is murdered. She was stabbed to death near her home in the Kew Gardens neighborhood of Queens in New York City. While tragic in itself, the 28-year-old’s death became even more so when it was learned how she came to die. Although all the details remain unknown, there are some facts available to us. Some of the “facts” we have are also simply wrong. Kitty was the manager of a bar and was arriving home from work around 3:15 AM. She parked her car about 100 feet from her apartment door and walked the distance to get home for the night. She was approached by then 29-year-old Winston Moseley.

Genovese was frightened and ran toward the front of her building which was on a larger street but her attacker ran faster and caught her. He stabbed her twice in the back. Genovese yelled out, “Oh my God, he stabbed me! Help me!” It was a cold night and most people had their windows closed with only a few people realizing it was a cry for help from the street. One of the neighbors yelled out his window at the attacker and Moseley did run off. Genovese was seriously injured in the attack, but was out of view of the neighbors. Some initial calls to police were made but were deemed to be of low priority. Misinformation and misperception both played a part in the reports to police. Some witnesses saw the attacker get in his car and leave.

Only ten minutes later he was back and now wearing a hat. He began searching for his victim and eventually found the wounded woman barely conscious and in a doorway. She was too weak to get inside her building. She was now out of view of the street and out of view of the original site of attack. Moseley stabbed Genovese several more times with knife wounds to her hands showing some defensive moves on her part. While she was dying, Moseley raped her and then stole about $50 from her purse before leaving. The entire attack lasted about 30 minutes. A few minutes after the attack, a final witness called police and by 4:15 AM Genovese was taken by ambulance where died en route to the hospital.

No one witnessed the entire assault and many thought they were seeing a fight between an established couple or a group of friends. Moseley had no prior record and was married with two children. He was arrested six days later while committing a home burglary. On the night of the murder, he had left home about 2 AM and began looking for a victim. While in custody, he admitted to two other murders and committing “30 to 40” burglaries. Psychiatric examinations suggested he was a necrophile. His lawyers were hoping for a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity but after seven hours of deliberation, the jury came back with a guilty verdict and death sentence. He remains in prison at the Clinton Correctional Facility. He is now 79-years-old. Kitty is buried in New Canaan, Connecticut.

There is no witness so terrible and no accuser so powerful as conscience which dwells within us. – Sophocles

Perfect Valor is to do, without a witness, all that we could do before the whole world. – Francois de La Rochefoucauld

My witness is the empty sky. – Jack Kerouac

One of the privileges of the great is to witness catastrophes from a terrace. – Jean Giraudoux

Also on this day: The Talkies – In 1923, Lee de Forest demonstrated his process to record voices synchronized with film.
Microsoft IPO – In 1986, Microsoft had its Initial Public Offering.
Ballinglass Incident – In 1846, three hundred tenant farmers were evicted.
Dunblane Massacre – In 1996, a gunman entered the Dunblane Primary School with guns blazing.


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