A Picture History of Kew Gardens, NY
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Kitty Genovese.  CLICK TO ENLARGE.
Click on image to enlarge.
[Illustration by Bill Rose. This image did not appear in the original Times article. Click to enlarge.]

"Today, the specifics of the neighborhood's reaction to the murder are in dispute, and several residents who were alive at the time of the attack maintained yesterday that the screams were not that easy to hear and that in fact, some people did call for help or seek to find out what was going on."

Joe Sexton, "A Request Revives Passions in the Kitty Genovese Case", The New York Times, p. B4 (July 25, 1995).

Click here to read the March 27, 1964 New York Times  article that first broke the story, along with a more detailed analysis of why I think the Times  got the story wrong.
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"It ain't what folks know that's the problem, it's what they know that ain't so."  ~ Josh Billings, 1818 - 85

Kitty Genovese
What you think you know about the case might not be true

According to the March 27, 1964 New York Times:
"For more than half an hour thirty-eight respectable, law-abiding citizens in Queens watched a killer stalk and stab [Kitty Genovese] in three separate attacks in Kew Gardens. ... Not one person telephoned the police during the assault ... .
[Bracketed text is mine.]  The story became a cultural landmark, making infamous the phrase, "We didn't want to get involved."  However, the undisputed evidence from the killer's trial and other sources shows that the Times account is mostly wrong.

  1. Kitty Genovese - What you think you know about the case might not be true

  2. This much is certain

  3. There were 2 attacks, not 3

  4. The police were called after the first attack

  5. There were not 38 eye  witnesses

  6. Only 2 eye witnesses are known to have seen Kitty attacked

  7. The witnesses saw Kitty leave and not come back

  8. The witnesses did not watch for half an hour

  9. Only one witness is known to have heard Kitty say she had been stabbed

  10. Kitty did not scream for half an hour

  11. Kitty might not have been saved by a phone call

  12. The problem was not apathy

  13. "We didn't want to get involved"

  14. Doubts
     Created 01/14/04.  Revised 01/31/04. Home - Next