Winston Moseley was born on March 2nd, 1935 in Manhattan, New York City. While in custody, he confessed to killing the bartender Kitty Genovese. The 28- year old was stabbed to death on March 13, 1964, in the neighborhood of Queens in New York City where she lived. During his trial, he was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death; this sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment. He died on March 28th at the age of 81 while serving 52 years.
The murder of Kitty Genovese
Catherine Susan Genovese (July 7, 1935 – March 13, 1964) is best known for the brutal murder she experienced in New York City back in 1964 and that has come to be known as the infamous Kitty Genovese murder case. Beyond being remembered for this horrific event, she has been immortalized and remembered for an article published on March 27, 1964, that purported how 38 individuals who heard or observed the attack failed to assist her. Though at least some of this depiction was nearly inaccurate, it prompted countless investigations into the social psychological phenomenon that has come to be known as “bystander effect” or “Genovese syndrome” – diffusion of responsibility to an external entity for failing to save a person from harm based on increased socio-psychological pressures.
Early Life of Kitty Genovese
Kitty was born to Rachel and Vincent Genovese and she was the oldest of five children. Her family chose to move to Connecticut in 1954 after her mother witnessed a murder in the city. At the time, Kitty had just gone off to college so she decided to stay in New York where she had lived for nine years prior.
She worked as a bar manager at a local Sports Bar at the time of her death. It was revealed on the fortieth anniversary of her death that she and her girlfriend shared a Queens apartment.
The Attack of Kitty Genovese
Kitty Genovese was attacked by an African-American business machine operator named Winston Moseley on a chilly March evening in 1964. He chased her within her apartment complex as she parked at the door to her home, causing Genovese to scream for help. Though several neighbors heard the young woman’s cries for help only a few of them recognized the sound as a cry for help-perhaps because it was a cold night and many of them had their windows closed. Although she had been seriously wounded by Moseley’s unrelenting attack, she managed to stagger towards her apartment and out of view of her neighbors.
Several witnesses reported to the police that they had seen Winston Moseley entering his car and leaving shortly after, but he returned 10 minutes later shadowing his face with a wide-brimmed hat. He systematically searched the parking lot for Kitty Genovese – eventually finding her barely conscious and lying in a hallway at the back of the building. Out of view of the street and those who may have heard or seen any sign of initial attack, Moseley stabbed Genovese several more times after raping her – stealing US$49 from her before running away again.
A few minutes after the final attack on Kitty Genovese, Karl Ross, a witness to the crime, called the Police who together with the medical personnel arrived at the scene within minutes. Kitty Genovese, after being taken away by ambulance died en route to the hospital. Later investigation revealed that about a dozen people heard or observed parts of the attack, though probably not 38 as Times article reported. None of the neighbors could have seen or observed the entire incident from beginning to end.
Arrest and Trial of Winston Moseley
On March 19th, 1964, six days after Genovese was stabbed to death, Moseley was arrested for suspected robbery of a television set discovered in the trunk of his car. A detective recalled seeing a white car similar to Moseley’s car parked near where Genovese was stabbed. During questioning, Moseley eventually admitted to the murders of Genovese as well as two other women – Annie Mae Johnson killed a few weeks earlier and 15-year-old Barbara Kralik killed the previous July.
On June 15, 1966, Moseley was sentenced to death for the murder of Genovese but was not charged with the other two murders he had admitted to. 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 reduced the sentence to life imprisonment. He died on March 28th at the age of 81 while serving 52 years.