Irene Front heard Catherine’s screams. “There was another shriek,” she testified in court. “And she was lying down crying out.”
The night was once again quiet, the only sound Catherine’s sobbing as she struggled to her feet. Blood streaming from her wounds, Catherine staggered to the side of her building and fought for consciousness. Within five minutes, her attacker had returned and stabbed her again.
“I’m dying, I’m dying,” Catherine cried out. Lights again flashed on, windows opened as tenants peered into the night. The attacker was spotted racing to a white Chevy Corvair and driving away.
From the sixth floor of the apartment building, Marjorie and Samual Kroshkin witnessed the attack from their window.
“I saw a man hurry to a car under my window,” he said later. “He left and came back five minutes later and was looking around the area. “Mr. Koshkin wanted to call the police, but Mrs. Koshkin thought otherwise. “I didn’t let him,” she later said to the press. “I told him there must have been thirty calls already.”
Another witness later said at trial that she heard a scream for help three different times. “I saw a girl lying down on the pavement with a man bending down over her, beating her.”
Determined to live, Catherine made her way to the rear of her building and tried to enter through a back door. It was locked. She slid along the wall until she reached a hallway leading to the second floor, but lost her footing and fell. The man returned.
“We underestimate the damage that these accumulated images do to the brain. The immediate effect can be delusional, equivalent to a sort of post-hypnotic suggestion. The witnesses became confused and paralyzed by the violence they witnessed outside their window. They were fascinated by the drama, by the action, and yet not entirely sure that what was taking place was actually happening.”–Psychiatrist Ralph S. Banay
The attacker was identified as Winston Moseley. He was later arrested in connection with burglary charges and confessed to the murder of Kitty Genovese and two others. His confession details the attack, and he stated his motivation was to kill a woman. He chose Kitty at random.
Moseley showed no remorse and was given the death sentence. But in 1967, the New York Court of Appeals found that Moseley should have been able to argue he was medically insane at the sentencing hearing, and the sentence was reduce to life.
During a 1968 trip to the hospital for surgery, Moseley attacked a guard and beat him, then took a bat and started swinging at those around him. He took five hostages, raping one in front of her husband. He was recaptured after a two-day manhunt. Moseley has been denied bail thirteen times. His next hearing is in November.
Kitty’s murder is a sad representation of some of our worst traits: apathy and selfishness. What would you have done? Do you know of any other murders affected by the Bystander Effect.
I have heard of this case before but not in such grizzly detail! Ugh. It's so, so sad. I think this case it what started people really talking about this bystander effect isn't it? Everyone talks about it now and I think most of us would say we would have called the police. I can't imagine NOT calling the police. But it sure makes you think. Out of all those people NO ONE called. What was the deal? I still don't understand it.
What a chilling story. Can you imagine what it was like to be in such peril and have no one come to your aid? Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse
That's simply horrifying. I definitely would've called the police and yelled out my window at the guy. I wouldn't have gone outside and taken him on though. But still, I would've tried to get help for her.
Michael AnnIt's really sad. From my understanding, it is what started the big discussion of the bystander effect. I can't imagine not calling the police, either. It's one thing to be scared get involved, but to sit in your apartment and not pic up the phone blows my mind.AngelaNo, I can't. 32 minutes that poor girl spent fighting for her life must have been awful. I'm sure she kept thinking that at any moment someone would show up. The reports are a bit confusing, but from what I read, one woman did try to call the police but was so scared she couldn't get the words out.KellyI would have, too. I wouldn't have gone outside, but I damn sure would have called the cops. Couldn't have lived with myself if I hadn't.
Keep in mind, these were the days before 911 – you probably had to get out the phone book and look up the number. And I just read another article on this, testing at what number of people the bystander effect happens, only I can't find the link (five or more people, I think.) I'd like to think I would do something – and also hope I never have to.
Beverly – that's a good point and one I hadn't thought of. Calling them wouldn't be as easier as it would be today. The effect of a crowd is fascinating to me. It's amazing how much our mentality can change. Thanks!
Chilling, Tracy. I felt the hair rise on my head as I read this. That poor woman! I know I would do something. I stopped three people fighting outside in an alley behind my townhome in Virginia when I lived there. You do have to be careful. But being careful doesn't mean there's nothing to be done.Lovely writing, Tracy. Very polished style.
Thanks, Cynthia. It's very sad. Wow, good for you on stopping that fight. That would be scary as a woman. Appreciate the compliments!
I don't think I could have done nothing. However, I've seen some interesting things happen with people as a group. Peer pressure, even if it's unspoken is amazing. If one man had run out there and hollered at the guy, another man would have probably joined him. Then, the meanest woman on the block would have gotten in on the action. It's like people need someone to act first. I'd heard the story before, but you renewed the horror of it for me. Good job. 😉
Totally creepy! I can't believe no one called the police! I'd like to think that wouldn't happen today but I'm sure it does.
Jessica R. Patch
Wow, that is chilling. Very sad to know that poor girl needed help and no one even took the chance to save her. A sobering reminder to NOT just be a bystander.
CatiePeer pressure is definitely amazing. It goes hand in hand with the mob mentality and the development of cults. I can't imagine being swayed so strongly, yet it happens a lot. You're right, people always wait for someone to act first. And thanks, glad you enjoyed it.LauraI'm sure it does, too. Apathy isn't something that's gone away, especially in the big cities. Thanks for your comment!JessicaI wonder what it was like for those witnesses after the fact? I would hope they had some guilt and a lot of prayer. Thanks for commenting!
Finally was able to get a moment to read your blog; which I always enjoy, btw. :)As I sat here reading it, all I could say over and over was "oh my god. oh my god." How horrific! That girl; I can only imagine how she fought so hard to live.The by-stander effect is (to borrow an already used above word) chilling. I hope to never be in that situation because I don't know what I'd do. I'd like to say I'd call, but would shock and horror render me unable to move? Would fear freeze me in place? If terror immobilized me, would I then become just as guilty of murder as the man wielding the knife? That, I can say with confidence- if I didn't call, the self-accusations would eat away at me for life.Human psychology is fascinating. Thank you again for these things to mull over; it actually is very inspiring for what I like to write.
Thanks, Tressa! I know, the idea of what must have went through her mind really gets to me. It is incredibly chilling. I think in a situation like the above, most of us would at least call the police. I can't say that I would go down there and try to do something physically, but I'd have to do something. Like you, the self-accusations would make me crazy.You're very welcome. Thanks for commenting!
That is terrible. I want to be disgusted–am disgusted–but I have to admit that there have been times where neighbors have been screaming and cursing and I haven't done anything. I've been too scared, knowing what those people were capable of and not wanting to become a target for retaliation. Sometimes it's hard to know what exactly is happening. I would like to think that if I knew or saw an actual attack, I would call 911, though probably after locking myself in the bathroom.
AngelaYou know, I can empathize with that. And you probably never think someone's getting killed, just yet another bad fight. Would be a tough position to be in.Thanks for commenting!
Yikes. This will haunt me.
I love true crime stories and I had never heard of this one. Absolutely awful! I am not a fighter, so I wouldn't throw myself in the middle of a violent crime, but I would YELL and call 9-1-1 if I ever saw anything like this. Of course, I'd feel better with a taser in my purse….
Me, too, Annie. So sad.Tiffany, I love true crime stories and hadn't heard of this one, either. I wouldn't throw myself in the middle either, but like you, I'd have done something. Thanks, ladies!
If she had a licensed handgun she could saved herself. Police are first responders, having a gun is an instant responder.