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My apologies to John Stossel.

50 years ago today, Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death in Queens by Winston Moseley.

Kitty Genovese

Though many people heard her scream, no one…no one, came to her aid.

So, just like John would ask, I ask, “What would you do?

Some will say that Genovese’s cries for help were not heard and that some assistance was provided.

There’s no proof of that.

I was 11 at the time this happened, and I remember the TV news reports clearly.  Every one was appalled, shocked, bewildered, and disgusted.

Kitty, a bar manager, had driven home, arriving there about 3 AM.  She parked her car about 100 feet from her front door, and walked down the alley to go home.

Approached by Moseley, frightened, she began to run, but Moseley overtook her, and she began to scream, “Oh my God, he stabbed me! Help me!

Her cries were heard by several neighbors, but only a few admitted to recognizing them as cries for help.

“Oh my God, he stabbed me!”, what else could that be?

Allegedly, a neighbor yelled, “Let that girl alone!”, and Moseley ran away.

Genovese made her way to the rear entrance of her apartment building; she was seriously injured, but out of view.

Some one did actually call the police saying that she was “beat UP, but got UP and was staggering around.”

But, he didn’t go look for her, nor did he offer her aid.

Within in ten minutes, Moseley returned, found his victim, further attacked her, raped her, and stole $49 from her wallet, leaving her lying in the hallway.

This all happened over a hour’s time.

Where were the police?

Where were the neighbors?

A second neighbor, Karl Ross, called the police again. They arrived in minutes taking Kitty by ambulance to the hospital. 

She died on the way there.

When questioned, a dozen neighbors knew something was amiss.

Some saw or heard the first attack.

They did nothing.

Some saw or heard the second attack.

They did nothing.

And some thought it was a lover’s quarrel.

And did nothing.

Although the initial newspaper reports that 38 people witnessed the murder and did nothing is inaccurate, the fact remains that several people, probably a dozen, did just that.


Would it make a difference if it were only one?

I think not.

Standing by and allowing an injustice to take place is a shame, if not a crime.

I ask myself every time I hear about Kitty Genovese, “What would I do?”

What would you do?

Fifty years later, are we better, or are we worse?

***Genovese’s killer, Winston Moseley, was found guilty and sentenced to death on June 15, 1964. That sentence was later reduced to lifetime imprisonment on the grounds that he had not been allowed to argue during the trial that he was “medically insane”. Moseley committed another series of crimes when he escaped from custody on March 18, 1968, and then fled to a nearby vacant home, where he held the owners hostage. On March 22, he broke into another home and took a woman and her daughter hostage before surrendering to police. Moseley, who was denied parole for a seventeenth time in December 2013, remains in prison.

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