No parole for Kitty Genovese killer; ’64 slaying shocked New York


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The man convicted of the 1964 killing of Kitty Genovese, whose murder came to symbolize the image of a coldhearted city where a young woman could be stalked and stabbed as her screams went unheeded, has been denied parole for the 15th time.

Though the accounts of callous neighbors ignoring Genovese’s cries for help have since been disputed, the brutality of the crime in New York City never has been in question. Nor have the fears that Winston Moseley, now 76, could be a danger to society if freed.


The state’s parole board noted the threat Monday in denying freedom for Moseley, who was sentenced to 20 years to life after pleading guilty to murder, robbery and attempted kidnapping.

Moseley’s chances for release might have been hampered by his brief escape from prison in 1968, when he fled while being taken to a hospital. He was caught the same day, but not before he had stolen a rifle, bound and gagged a couple in their home, and fled with their cash.

‘I’d like to point out that it’s been a very long time since any of those crimes were committed,’ Moseley said, according to an Associated Press report on the parole hearing. He said he had tried to do ‘positive things’ to ‘make up for those wrongs.’

According to AP, parole commissioners noted Moseley’s accomplishments in prison and letters of support in his file, but they cited his potential threat to the community if he were freed. Moseley will be eligible for parole again in 2013.

Genovese was a 28-year-old living in Queens and managing a bar when she was attacked about 3 a.m. March 13, 1964, while on her way home after work.

According to news and police reports at the time, Moseley chased down Genovese and stabbed her twice before fleeing when she screamed for help. But he returned and found Genovese slumped in a doorway, where he stabbed her repeatedly, raped her and robbed her before leaving her to die.


On the 40th anniversary of Genovese’s slaying, her partner, Mary Ann Zielonko, described having to identify her girlfriend’s body.

Initial news reports said that 38 people who had heard Genovese’s screams ignored them, with some shutting their apartment windows to drown out the noise. Those reports later were disputed by police and by some people still living in the area, who said they phoned police but had no way of knowing exactly what was happening on the street or where the screaming woman was.

A Queens historian who has researched the case, Joseph De May, said in a 2009 interview that the story of 38 people actively ignoring Genovese’s screams doesn’t hold up, and that the neighbors were unfairly tainted by inaccurate reporting of the incident.

But the crime remains a symbol of urban apathy and has been the focus of psychological studies into the so-called ‘bystander effect,’ which stops people from getting involved in others’ distress even if it means leaving someone to die.

Recently, the syndrome has been lamented in China as it struggles to explain how at least 18 people could have ignored a 2-year-old girl lying in the street after she had been hit by two vehicles. The girl later died.



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-- Tina Susman in New York