Controversy Still Haunts 37-Year-Old Murder Case
A Queens Courier Exclusive
Thirty seven years ago, on a quiet tree-lined street in Kew Gardens, a shattering event took place that stunned the good people of Queens and millions around the world. It all started at three in the morning on March 13, 1964, when a red Fiat pulled into a parking space adjoining the Long Island Railroad, and a young dark-haired barmaid, Kitty Genovese stepped out. She began the 100-foot walk toward her apartment at 82-70 Austin St.
Hiding in the darkness was Winston Mosley, 29, of Ozone Park, a business machine operator, who wielded a knife. He attacked her viciously, she screamed and lights went on in the large Mowbray apartment house across Austin St. at 82-67. Mosley left the scene, scared off by the lights, and Kitty managed to drag herself toward her apartment opposite the railroad tracks. But Mosley found her and slashed her again. Kitty screamed again and more lights came on in the apartment house.
Later, police charged that none of the witnesses38 in allpicked up a telephone to alert them that an attack was taking place.
The most notorious and painful murder case in the boroughs history will come back into focus again in late January when Mosley, convict #64A0102, incarcerated at Great Meadow State Prison in Comstock, N.Y., appears before the State Board of Parole seeking his freedom after 37 years behind bars at the maximum security prison upstate.
The killers day before the Parole Board has forced Kew Gardens residents to reflect again on the tragedy and the sociological implications of the case that shocked America.
No one interviewed by The Queens Courier last week favored Mosleys release. Many of those aware of the crime almost four decades ago were close-lipped. The case is infamous and many in Kew Garden resist talking about it.
Most surprisingly, not everyone agrees that the 38 witnesses, most of them tenants of the Mowbray, failed to call the police about the murder outside their windows. Anthony Corrado, who has owned an upholstery shop on Austin St. for more than 40 years, believes the police were called that night.
"I know of at least two women who called the cops," Corrado said. "A friend of mine, Irene Furst, now deceased, said she saw the killer after he ran to his car and shortly thereafter two cops arrived. Somebody called them."
Corrado said two next door neighbors of Genovese told him that they heard her moan. "They heard her pleas through an air shaft; the two women used to talk to each other," he said.
"The two women saw detectives later, but Kitty was dead."
Corrado said the media never addressed claims that some of the 38 witnesses did in fact call the police. He said it was because of the spate of articles, books and seminars about "bad samaritanism" in Kew Gardens.
"The real story was hidden," he said. "They didnt want to upset the apple cart."
Another tenant who lived in the Mowbray, across the street from the murder scene and still lives there, said that over the years she has been told that 14 calls were made to the police by the witnesses. She declined to give her name.
"The press let the wrong story stand. And as a result, Kew Gardens residents "got a bad rap," Corrado said.
Corrado knew Genovese well. The upholsterer remembers the day she moved into her apartment which was just over his store. She asked him to move a sofa into her apartment. He noticed that she shared the apartment with a girlfriend.
"Kitty was very nice," Corrado said. "She never made any noise. She was manager of a bar in Hollis and worked late. Thats why she arrived home at 3 a.m. on the day she was killed."
Corrado was not at his home on Talbot St., around the corner from the murder site, when the event took place. He had been on a trip and landed at Idlewild (JFK) that day. He saw a reference to his address in the newspaper, and thought at first there had been a fire.
He soon learned the truth.
When he arrived at his store the next day, detectives were waiting for him. Corrado was told that he was a suspect in the case.
"We have a description that fits you," one detective said.
Corrado said he was away when the killing took place. He showed the detectives his airline tickets and they left. A few days later Mosley was arrested.
He led Courier reporters and a photographer around the scene of the bloody knifing that took place 37 years ago and gave a detailed account of the crime. It began when Genovese parked her car in the LIRR parking lot. As soon as she emerged from her red Fiat, Mosley jumped out, she ran to the corner bar, an establishment usually open in the wee hours. She thought the regulars at Baileys Bar would help her escape Mosleys knife. But luck was against her. Tragically, the bar was shuttered early because a new bartender was on duty. He had closed the bar before midnight because there had been fighting among patrons, a common occurrence that neighbors constantly complained about.
Genovese was trapped and Mosley came at her with a large carving knife. She fell to the pavement and screamed. Seconds later the lights came on in several apartments facing the murder taking place under the tenants noses. The lights startled Mosley and he backed off, running to his car, while the badly wounded Genovese limped toward her apartment at 82-70 Austin St., adjoining the railroad tracks. But the barmaid never made it. She stumbled into her neighbors hallway and began to cry for help.
"God, he stabbed me! Im dying," she cried.
An angry neighbor at the Mowbray opened his window and yelled, "Let that girl alone." He slammed the window shut, failing to call the police. The show of indifference sounded Genoveses death knell.
Her final moans were heard by the two neighbors and after Genovese died a cop showed up. "It was too late," Corrado said.
Later one young couple in the Mowbray called friends to ask them what to do but failed to do the obvious and call the police. One impediment to a life-saving call to authorities was the fact that in 1964 there was no 911 emergency line to call.
Thirty seven years later many questions remain about the plight of Kitty Genovese and her neighbors behavior. Did any of the scorned 38 witnesses call the police? Corrado said at least two did and a Mowbray tenant claimed 14 called. Another unsolved mystery is the charge by local residents that the police blotter page of March 13, 1964, was torn out of the precinct book.
Whats clear to some is that the name Kitty Genovese today remains symptomatic of the dark side of the national character. Its been called the "Genovese Syndrome." Books, magazine articles, sociology classes and seminars have dealt with the Genovese tragedy. And the case continues to cause rancor in Kew Gardens, a community that prides itself on being among the best and most caring of any neighborhood in the City.
Although most Kew Gardens residents interviewed agree that Mosley probably will be denied his freedom next month, they will be happy when the latest burst of publicity comes to an end and they will be rid of reporters still probing a tragedy that occurred decades ago.
But the Genovese case appears to have a life of its own. Two years ago, a Connecticut theater group produced a moving play called, "The Screams of Kitty Genovese."
And according to Aaron Adler, an Austin St. resident who remembers the Genovese case, a film crew recently visited the murder scene. "Can you imagine the public reaction in Kew Gardens to a Hollywood film?" he asked.
Kitty Genovese Killer Seeks Freedom
Controversy Still Haunts 37-Year-Old Murder Case