The stabbing death of barmaid Catherine "Kitty" Genovese, outside her Queens apartment house on March 13, 1964, was neither startling nor unusual for New York.
What made the case a cause celebre were the reactions of an estimated thirty-seven witnesses who watched the victim grapple with her killer, over half an hour in three separate attacks, before they called police.
When questioned by authorities and newsmen, neighbors voiced the sentiment that has become a grim refrain from major cities everywhere: "I didn't want to get involved."
On April 2, Winston Moseley, a 29-year-old business machine operator, confessed to the murders of Catherine Genovese and two other female victims in Queens.
The first, Barbara Kralik, 15, was stabbed in her home on July 20, 1963. Moseley's second victim, housewife Ann Johnson, was shot and then burned to death on February 29, two weeks before the Genovese attack made headlines in New York.
Moseley's defense attorney announced plans to plead his client "guilty by reason of insanity," but there were problems with the prosecution's
Another suspect, 10-year-old Alvin Mitchell, was already charged with the Kralik slaying, and prosecutors refused to cancel his trial on the basis of Moseley's confession. True, they also had a "confession" from Mitchell, but it was less than persuasive; their suspect "didn't remember" stabbing Kralik, but he thought he might have punched her several
On June 11, 1964, Moseley was convicted of first-degree murder in the Genovese case; four days later, announcement of his death sentence was greeted by applause from courtroom spectators.
Alvin Mitchell went to trial later that month, with Moseley repeating his confessions from the witness stand on June 23, and jurors were unable to reach a verdict in the case.
Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia
of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans
Thirty-Eight Who Saw Murder Didn't
Call the Police
Martin Gansberg - The New York Times
March 27, 1964
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 their chatter and the sudden glow of their
bedroom lights 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 today.
Still shocked is Assistant Chief Inspector Frederick
M. Lussen, in charge of the borough's detectives and a veteran of 25
years of homicide investigations. He can give a matter-of-fact
recitation on many murders. But the Kew Gardens slaying baffles him--not
because it is a murder, but because the "good people" failed to call the
"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."
This is what the police say happened at 3:20 A.M. in
the staid, middle-class, tree-lined Austin Street area:
Twenty-eight-year-old Catherine Genovese, who was
called Kitty by almost everyone in the neighborhood, was returning home
from her job as manager of a bar in Hollis. She parked her red Fiat in a
lot adjacent to the Kew Gardens Long Island Railroad Station, facing
Mowbray Place. Like many residents of the neighborhood, she had parked
there day after day since her arrival from Connecticut a year ago,
although the railroad frowns on the practice.
She turned off the lights of her car, locked the door,
and started to walk the 100 feet to the entrance of her apartment at
82-70 Austin Street, which is in a Tudor building, with stores in the
first floor and apartments on the second.
The entrance to the apartment is in the rear of the
building because the front is rented to retail stores. At night the
quiet neigborhood is shrouded in the slumbering darkness that marks
most residential areas.
Miss Genovese noticed a man at the far end of the lot,
near a seven-story apartment house at 82-40 Austin Street. She halted.
Then, nervously, she headed up Austin Street toward Lefferts Boulevard,
where there is a call box to the 102nd Police Precinct in nearby
She got as far as a street light in front of a
bookstore before the man grabbed her. She screamed. Lights went on in
the 10-story apartment house at 82-67 Austin Street, which faces the
bookstore. Windows slid open and voices punctuated the early-morning
Miss Genovese screamed: "Oh, my God, he stabbed me!
Please help me! Please help me!"
From one of the upper windows in the apartment house,
a man called down: "Let that girl alone!"
The assailant looked up at him, shrugged, and walked
down Austin Street toward a white sedan parked a short distance away.
Miss Genovese struggled to her feet.
Lights went out. The killer returned to Miss Genovese,
now trying to make her way around the side of the building by the
parking lot to get to her apartment. The assailant stabbed her again.
"I'm dying!" she shrieked. "I'm dying!"
Windows were opened again, and lights went on in many
apartments. The assailant got into his car and drove away. Miss Genovese
staggered to her feet. A city bus, 0-10, the Lefferts Boulevard line to
Kennedy International Airport, passed. It was 3:35 A.M.
The assailant returned. By then, Miss Genovese had
crawled to the back of the building, where the freshly painted brown
doors to the apartment house held out hope for safety. The killer tried
the first door; she wasn't there. At the second door, 82-62 Austin
Street, he saw her slumped on the floor at the foot of the stairs. He
stabbed her a third time--fatally.
It was 3:50 by the time the police received their
first call, from a man who was a neighbor of Miss Genovese. In two
minutes they were at the scene. The neighbor, a 70-year-old woman, and
another woman were the only persons on the street. Nobody else came
The man explained that he had called the police after
much deliberation. He had phoned a friend in Nassau County for advice
and then he had crossed the roof of the building to the apartment of
the elderly woman to get her to make the call.
"I didn't want to get involved," he sheepishly told
Six days later, the police arrested Winston Moseley,
a 29-year-old business machine operator, and charged him with homicide.
Moseley had no previous record. He is married, has two children and owns
a home at 133-19 Sutter Avenue, South Ozone Park, Queens. On Wednesday,
a court committed him to Kings County Hospital for psychiatric
When questioned by the police, Moseley also said he
had slain Mrs. Annie May Johnson, 24, of 146-12 133d Avenue, Jamaica, on
Feb. 29 and Barbara Kralik, 15, of 174-17 140th Avenue, Springfield
Gardens, last July. In the Kralik case, the police are holding Alvin L.
Mitchell, who is said to have confessed to that slaying.
The police stressed how simple it would have been to
have gotten in touch with them. "A phone call," said one of the
detectives, "would have done it." The police may be reached by dialing
"0" for operator or SPring 7-3100.
Today witnesses from the neighborhood, which is
made up of one-family homes in the $35,000 to $60,000 range with the
exception of the two apartment houses near the railroad station, find
it difficult to explain why they didn't call the police.
A housewife, knowingly if quite casually, said, "We
thought it was a lovers' quarrel." A husband and wife both said, "Frankly,
we were afraid." They seemed aware of the fact that events might have
been different. A distraught woman, wiping her hands in her apron, said,
"I didn't want my husband to get involved."
One couple, now willing to talk about that night,
said they heard the first screams. The husband looked thoughtfully at
the bookstore where the killer first grabbed Miss Genovese.
"We went to the window to see what was happening,"
he said, "but the light from our bedroom made it difficult to see the
street." The wife, still apprehensive, added: "I put out the light and
we were able to see better."
Asked why they hadn't called the
police, she shrugged and replied: "I don't know."
A man peeked out from a slight opening in the doorway
to his apartment and rattled off an account of the killer's second
attack. Why hadn't he called the police at the time? "I was tired," he
said without emotion. "I went back to bed."
It was 4:25 A.M. when the ambulance arrived to take
the body of Miss Genovese. It drove off. "Then," a solemn police
detective said, "the people came out."
The above reported events are true and took place
on March 14, 1964.
The brutal murder of Kitty Genovese and the
disturbing lack of action by her neighbors became emblematic in
what many perceived as an evolving culture of violence and apathy
in the United States. In fact, social scientists still
debate the causes of what is now known as "the Genovese Syndrome."
Nightmare On Austin Street
was a story so disturbing that we all still remember it. But what if it
By Jim Rasenberger - AmericanHeritage.com
In the paper’s morning edition for
March 27, 1964, The New York Times ran one
of the most indelible leads in its 155-year history. “For more than half
an hour,” began a front-page article by the reporter Martin Gansberg,
“thirty-eight respectable, law-abiding citizens in Queens watched a
killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks in Kew Gardens.”
The story went on to recount
the killing of 28-year-old Catherine Genovese, known as Kitty, by a
psychopath named Winston Moseley. The murder had occurred two weeks
earlier, in the cold dark hours of March 13 shortly after Ms. Genovese
drove into her neighborhood of faux-Tudor buildings in Queens, New York.
Moseley followed, tailing her in a white Corvair. When she parked near
her apartment building, he continued his pursuit on foot. Ms. Genovese
made it only a few hundred feet up Austin Street, one of Kew Garden’s
thoroughfares, before Moseley caught up to her and shoved a knife into
her back. Later, after attempting to rape her in a foyer at the back of
her building, he left her to bleed to death.
The murder was ghastly, but
it wasn’t the details of Moseley’s attack that made the story so
chilling. It was the response of the neighbors. According to the
Times, as Ms. Genovese screamed out, “Please
help me! Please help me!” lights came on in nearby apartment buildings,
faces appeared in windows, a man shouted, but nothing more. “Not one
person telephoned the police during the assault,” reported the
Times; “one witness called after the woman
was dead.” For 35 minutes 38 people simply watched—the
word is right there in the lead—as Moseley slaughtered their pretty
young neighbor. One witness explained himself with a phrase that became
infamous: “I didn’t want to get involved.”
Times article detonated on breakfast tables, then mushroomed into
an expanding cloud of gloom. Newspapers disseminated the story across
the country. The 38 witnesses were roundly and personally vilified, but
to those in the business of worrying about such things, their actions—or
rather, inactions—reflected a broad crisis in American society. As
clergymen decried the incident from their Sunday pulpits, politicians
spoke gravely of the country’s moral lethargy. Mike Wallace broadcast a
CBS radio special called “The Apathetic American.” Loudon Wainwright
concluded in Life magazine that Americans
were “becoming a callous, chickenhearted and immoral people.”
Gradually the self-flagellation
mellowed into something more like navel-gazing. Academic symposiums were
organized, research grants awarded, studies undertaken. A number of
these studies yielded groundbreaking insights into the pathology of Bad
Samaritanism—“bystander apathy,” as it came to be called, or simply
Genovese syndrome. In the years to come, more than a thousand books and
articles, as well as countless plays, movie scripts, and songs, were
inspired by the story of the 38 witnesses who watched their neighbor die.
All of which brings us, 42
years later, to what may be the most peculiar aspect of the case. The
Times article that incited all this industry
about an urban horror was almost certainly a misleading account of what
Almost from the start there
were murmurs that the Times had exaggerated
details of the case. The reporter John Melia aired some of these doubts
in the New York Daily News in 1984. Joe
Sexton alluded to them in a 1995 article for the
Times. The most recent debunking is the work not of a journalist
but of a lawyer and Kew Gardens resident named Joseph De May, Jr., whose
analysis of the original Times article,
posted at oldkewgardens.com, is exhaustive and eviscerating.
No one has ever questioned
that a horrible murder was committed or that some Kew Gardens residents
could—should—have done more to help Ms.
Genovese. But that description of 38 people
watching the murder for more than half an hour struck many as
implausible. Indeed, as a matter of geography, it seems impossible.
Ms. Genovese was first
stabbed on Austin Street. But after the initial attack, which lasted no
more than a minute or two, she staggered to a narrow foyer at the back
of her building, opposite Austin Street and
facing only the tracks of the Long Island Railroad. It was inside this
foyer that Moseley discovered her after temporarily fleeing the scene.
And it was here, out of view and earshot of nearly everyone in Kew
Gardens, that the greater part of the assault occurred.
Times initially described three attacks, based on a faulty police
report. In fact there were only two attacks, the one on Austin Street,
the other in the foyer. The Times later
noted the discrepancy, but to this day three is the number generally
cited in histories, adding to the impression that scores of people had
the opportunity to watch Ms. Genovese’s murder for a sustained period of
The true number of
eyewitnesses was not 38 but 6 or 7. To be sure, far more residents
heard something, but the perceptions of
eyewitnesses and earwitnesses alike were mostly fleeting and inchoate.
Many of the witnesses claimed that they did not grasp what was happening;
they thought it was a lovers’ quarrel or an argument spilling out of the
Old Bailey bar on Austin Street. The Times
insinuated that such excuses were disingenuous, but all those psychology
studies spawned by the case suggest otherwise. It’s generally not stone-cold
indifference that prevents people from pitching in during emergencies,
psychologists now agree. It’s states of mind more familiar to most of us:
confusion, fear, misapprehension, uncertainty.
A. M. Rosenthal, the young
newly appointed metropolitan editor at the Times
in 1964 who got the tip about the 38 witnesses and went on to edit the
article, stood by it to the end. “In a story that gets a lot of
attention, there’s always somebody who’s saying, ‘Well, that’s not
really what it’s supposed to be,’” he told this writer in a 2004
interview. Rosenthal, who went on to publish a book about the case (Thirty-eight
Witnesses) and later became the Times’s
executive editor (and who died last May), dismissed criticisms as
quibbles. “There may have been 38, there may have been 39, but the whole
picture, as I saw it, was very affecting.”
Well, yes. And no doubt that
picture gave shape to the free-floating end-of-innocence anxiety many
Americans already felt in those strange days of the early 1960s, just
months after President Kennedy’s assassination, as social mores shifted
rapidly and New York’s murder rate suddenly shot off on a three-decade
upward trajectory. Real good came of the story too. The 911 emergency
phone system was launched in its aftermath. The understanding of human
psychology was expanded. Consciences were pricked.
As to how affecting a more
tempered, more accurate account would have been, we can only wonder.
Certainly the much-maligned residents of Kew Gardens, most of whom
quickly moved away after the murder, would have been treated more
sympathetically. The caricature of New Yorkers as callous, self-centered
creatures might have been milder as the city entered its dark days of
the 1970s, and perhaps, in turn, New Yorkers would have behaved less
callously. One of the key insights of post-Kitty psychology is that
people tend to gauge their actions, moral or otherwise, on the actions
of those around them. In Good Samaritan, “prosocial” environments—New
York City in its heroic mode after the September 2001 attacks, for
example—people are more likely to behave altruistically. The corollary
of this is that Bad Samaritan environments tend to breed Bad Samaritans.
It’s a stretch to suggest
that the Times article made people Bad
Samaritans. At the very least, though, it’s a good bet many Americans
glanced at their neighbors more suspiciously after March 27, 1964. That
bespectacled man in 6F? The petite brunette in 3A? Would he, would she,
stand idly by and watch me die?
Lost in the uproar was Kitty
herself. She was never the story. What mattered was not how she lived
but how she died. So it comes as a surprise to learn that she was a
spirited young woman, funny and warm, hardly the victim-in-waiting that
gazed from photographs. Right after her murder there were hints in the
press that she traveled with a “fast crowd.” In fact, at the time of her
death, she was living a quiet life in a committed romance with her Kew
Gardens roommate, Mary Ann Zielonko. No newspaper would have mentioned
Ms. Genovese’s sexuality at the time, on the grounds that it was taboo
and immaterial. But her character, her likes and loves, speak to the
complexity of flesh and blood behind those who have the good or bad
fortune to become symbols.
Of course, complexity is not
really the province of daily journalism. Even the best of it, the sort
The New York Times has produced for many
decades, is provisional and imperfect. It’s the job of history to add
layers and nuance. One final irony, though: None of us would still be
writing, or reading, about Kitty Genovese 42 years later if the
Times had gotten the story right in the
Catherine Susan Genovese (July 7,
1935 – March 13, 1964), commonly known as Kitty Genovese, was a
New York City woman who was stabbed to death near her home in the Kew
Gardens section of Queens, New York on March 13, 1964. Genovese was
buried in a family grave at Lakeview Cemetery in New Canaan, Connecticut.
The circumstances of her murder and the supposed lack of reaction of
numerous neighbors were reported by a newspaper article published two
weeks later; the common portrayal of neighbors being fully aware, but
completely nonresponsive has later been criticized as inaccurate.
Nonetheless, it prompted investigation into the social psychological
phenomenon that has become known as the bystander effect (seldom: "Genovese
syndrome") and especially diffusion of responsibility.
Born in New York City; the daughter of Rachel (née Petrolli) and
Vincent Andronelle Genovese, she was the oldest of five children in a
middle-class Italian American family and was raised in Brooklyn. After
her mother witnessed a murder in the city, the family chose to move 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 11th Hour Sports Bar on Jamaica
Avenue in Hollis, Queens. It was revealed on the fortieth anniversary of
her death in 2004 that Genovese was a lesbian who shared a Queens
apartment with her girlfriend Mary Ann Zielonko.
Genovese had driven home in the late night of March 13, 1964.
Arriving home at about 3:15 a.m. and parking about 100 feet (30 m) from
her apartment's door, she was approached by Winston Moseley, an African-American
business machine operator.
Moseley ran after her and quickly overtook her, stabbing her twice in
the back. Genovese screamed, "Oh my God, he stabbed me! Help me!" It 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 one of
the neighbors shouted at the attacker, "Let that girl alone!", Moseley
ran away and Genovese slowly made her way toward her own apartment
around the end of the building. She was seriously injured, but now out
of view of those few who may have had reason to believe she was in need
Records of the earliest calls to police are unclear and were
certainly 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 his hat to a wide-rimmed
one to shadow his face. He systematically searched the parking lot,
train station, and small apartment complex, ultimately finding 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
Out of view of the street and of those who may have heard or seen any
sign of the original attack, he 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 she lay dying, he
raped her. He stole about $49 from her and left her dying 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 and medical personnel arrived within minutes of Ross'
call. Genovese was taken away by ambulance 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 could have seen or been aware of the entire
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 outside when Moseley first
Winston Moseley, an African-American business machine operator, was
later apprehended in connection with burglary charges. He confessed not
only to the murder of Kitty Genovese, but to two other murders, both
involving sexual assaults. Subsequent psychiatric examinations suggested
that Moseley was a necrophile. He was convicted of murder and sentenced
Moseley gave a confession to the police in which he detailed the
attack, corroborating the physical evidence at the scene. His motive for
the attack was simply "to kill a woman." 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
Moseley also testified at his own trial where he further described
the attack, leaving no question that he was the killer.
The initial death sentence was reduced to an indeterminate sentence/lifetime
imprisonment 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
In 1968, during a trip to a Buffalo, New York hospital for surgery (precipitated
by a soup can he placed in his own rectum as a pretext to leave prison),
Moseley overpowered a guard and beat him up to the point that his eyes
were bloody. He then took a bat and swung it at the closest person to
him and took five hostages, raping one of them before he was recaptured
after a two-day manhunt. He also participated in the later Attica Prison
Moseley remains in prison after being denied parole a thirteenth time
on March 11, 2008. A previous parole hearing included his defense that "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."
Many saw the story of Genovese's murder as an example of the
callousness or apathy supposedly prevalent in New York City, urban
United States, or humanity in general. Much of this framing of the event
came in reaction to an investigative article in The New York Times
written by Martin Gansberg and published on March 27, two weeks after
the murder. The article bore the headline "Thirty-Eight Who Saw Murder
Didn't Call the Police." The public view of the story crystallized
around a quote from the article, from 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."
Harlan Ellison, in his book Harlan Ellison's Watching,
referred to 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 a
report he read attributed the "get involved" quote to nearly all of the
thirty-eight who supposedly witnessed the attack. He later repeated the
figure of "thirty-eight motherfuckers" when mentioning the case in his
book The Other Glass Teat.
While Genovese's neighbors were vilified by the article, "Thirty-Eight
onlookers who did nothing" is a misconception. The article begins:
"For more than half an hour thirty-eight respectable, law-abiding
citizens in Queens watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three
separate attacks in Kew Gardens."
The lead is dramatic but factually inaccurate. 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 attempted rape in an exterior hallway which resulted in
Genovese's death. 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.
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 inefficient and directed individuals to the
incorrect department. The melodramatic press coverage also led to
serious investigation of the bystander effect by academic psychologists.
In addition, some communities organized Neighborhood Watch programs and
the equivalent for apartment buildings to aid people in distress.
Psychological research prompted by the
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 makes it easier for professors to capture student attention and
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
which 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 Thursday, March 13, 2008,
the 44th anniversary of Ms. Genovese's murder. It was denied. He will be
eligible to go up for parole again in 2010. The previous week, Moseley
had turned 72 years old, and has still shown little remorse for
Genovese's brother, Vincent, was unaware of the March 13 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
In popular culture
In 1975, ABC broadcast the TV movie Death Scream
based on the Kitty Genovese case.
In the 1986-1987 graphic novel Watchmen,
Kitty Genovese is portrayed as having ordered a dress of a high tech
fabric that contains black and white shifting, symmetrical shapes.
Walter Kovacs, an unskilled garment worker who eventually becomes the
vigilante known as Rorschach takes the dress home after she rejects
the final product, finding it to be ugly. After reading the newspaper
story of her death, Rorschach uses the fabric to make a mask as part
of his costume and commences to fight crime, effectively making
Genovese the catalyst that started his career as a vigilante. This
subplot was not included in the "episode" focusing on Rorschach/Walter
Kovacs in the 2009 film adaptation.
In the 1987 book Twilight Eyes by Dean R.
Koontz, the Kitty Genovese murder is referenced as being the work of
Goblins, the antagonists of the story.
Will Todd's The Screams of Kitty Genovese -
12 actor-singers and pit ensemble (1999)
In the opening of the film The Boondock Saints,
the case is used as a thesis for the movie in the Catholic priest's
sermon, in which he states, "And I am reminded on this Holy Day of the
sad story of Kitty Genovese. As you all may remember, A long time ago,
almost 30 years ago, this poor soul cried out for help, time and time
a gain, but no person answered her calls. Though many saw, no one so
much as called the police. They all just watched as Kitty was being
stabbed to death in broad daylight. They watched as her assailant
walked away. Now we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind
of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good
Harlan Ellison has stated that his short story "The
Whimper of Whipped Dogs" was inspired by the Genovese murder.
The murder is referenced with irony in a Phil Ochs
song about apathy, "Outside of a Small Circle of Friends".
Genovese is the inspiration for the album "Death Of
Annie Malone" by British band Beneath The King.
Genovese's story is cited in the Latter-day Saint
book The Miracle of Forgiveness as an example of committing a
sin by failing to do something right, rather than actively doing
something wrong. The bystanders who did nothing are compared to the
Levite and priest who passed the injured Jew in Jesus' Parable of the
"The Scream on Fifty-seventh Street," a short story
by Hortense Calisher, is an eerie, psychological study based on this
The 1996 episode of Law & Order entitled "Remand"
is based on the case.
In the Spike Lee movie Summer of Sam, the
main characters briefly mention the Kitty Genovese murder after
talking about the S.O.S. murders sweeping the city.
In the first part of the BBC radio series, Case
Studies, broadcast 7 May, 2008, psychologist Claudia Hammond re-investigated
the case with regard to studies into the bystander effect.
In Nip/Tuck Season 2 episode 7 titled "Naomi Gaines"
a fake appointment is made under the name Kitty Genovese referencing
the fact she was a victim.
Dorothy Uhnak's 1985 novel Victims was based
on the Genovese murder.
The November 1965 episode of Perry Mason,
entitled "The Case of the Silent Six", starts with an assault that is
ignored by six neighbors.
SEX: M RACE: B TYPE: T MOTIVE:
Thrill-killer of females age 15-29.
DISPOSITION: Condemned on one
count, 1964 (commuted to life, 1972).
Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia
of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans