2016-04-13 / Front Page

Kitty Genovese’ Killer Dies In Prison

By Liz Goff
Confessed killer Winston Mosley’s life sentence ended last month.

The man who confessed in a gut- wrenching, hand-written statement to stabbing Kitty Genovese to death in a Kew Gardens doorway in 1964 died on March 28 at the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York, authorities said.

Prison officials would not say how Mosley, 81, died, but said the death was not deemed suspicious.

New York State Parole Board members hearing the case 51 years after the murder said in November that releasing Mosley “would undermine respect for the law.” The panel denied Mosley parole on 18 occasions and sent Mosley back to prison in November to complete his life sentence.

Catherine Genovese was no stranger to her neighbors in Kew Gardens. She managed a local bar at night and would often spend her days shopping or strolling along Austin Street, where neighbors knew her as “Kitty.” But none of that did her any good on the last night of her life.

Kitty parked her car in a space adjacent to her home at about 3:20 a.m. on March 18, 1964, the time she usually returned home from work. But that night was different. When she closed her car door she spotted a man standing under a street lamp across the street, prosecutors said.

The neighborhood in 1964 wasn’t a place where a woman had to worry, walking home alone at night, But something sounded an alarm in Kitty’s mind that night, so she decided she would walk up Austin Street, to Lefferts Boulevard, to avoid the man. Kitty knew there was a police call box on the boulevard that she could use – just in case.

But Kitty never made it off Austin Street. The stranger stalked her, attacking her as she walked outside a darkened bookstore on the commercial strip. Kitty spun around to avoid contact with the stranger, but it was too late. She suddenly felt the cold blade of his knife, twisting into her stomach. “Oh, my God,” she cried, collapsing. “He stabbed me! Please help me! Please help me!” Kitty cried.

Lamps clicked on in apartments in a ten-story building across the street. Windows opened and a man yelled, “Leave that girl alone” from an upper floor of the building at 92-67 Austin Street. The stranger never flinched. He left Kitty bleeding in the doorway of the bookstore and headed to his car.

Kitty got to her feet, staggered and stumbled, bleeding, toward her own building. Her attacker heard her movements, turned and walked up to Kitty, again – and began stabbing her again.

Kitty screamed, “I’, dying, I’m dying,” as lights flickered on again and windows opened  with terrified people peering down on the bloody street. The stranger walked away again, headed into his car, and drove away. No one called the police or an ambulance to help the young woman.

Kitty crawled along Austin Street on her hands and knees and finally reached the entrance to her building. But the stranger, who had only driven around the block, spotted Kitty as she struggled to climb the stairs to her apartment.

No one called police and no one came to help as the stranger walked up to Kitty again, stabbing her to death. This time Kitty made no noise, she didn’t cry out for help.

Detectives investigating the murder knocked on doors for several weeks and spoke with 38 people who said they witnessed the murder. No one called police until 4 a.m., a half-hour after Kitty first cried out for help. Some said they thought it was a “lovers quarrel,” or they were “too tired” to pay attention. Others admitted they simply did not want to get involved.

The one man who called police took a long way to do so. He told investigators he first phoned a friend for advice, then left his apartment, crossed over his roof to another building and asked to use a neighbor’s phone to make the call because he “didn’t want to get involved.” All the while, Kitty Genovese was dead on the street at age 28.

Mosley, then 29, later admitted to stalking and stabbing Kitty. With his damning, written confession, a Queens jury convicted him and he was sent to death row.

Mosley, a keypunch operator with a wife, kids and a mortgaged home in South Ozone Park, was sentenced to death by the electric chair after confessing to Kitty’s murder, the 1963 murder of 15-year-old Barbara Kralik of Springfield Gardens and the murder of 24-year-old Annie Mae Johnson, a Mosley neighbor who was killed just weeks before Kitty Genovese.

Mosley escaped from prison in 1968 and, before he was recaptured he kidnapped a married couple and raped the wife. He was sent to Attica State Prison, where he took part in the 1971 riots that left 33 inmates and 10 hostages dead. Mosley was later sent to Clinton to serve out the remainder of his sentence.

Mosley made an attempt to free himself in June 1995, when he hired a lawyer and argued in court for a new trial, saying he was denied an effective defense at his murder trial.

Mosley eventually lost his appeal and was returned to serve out his sentence.

The Kitty Genovese case became an international symbol of urban indifference and, years later sparked the creation of the city’s 911 system.

For years, people came to gawk at the building where 38 people witnessed Kitty’s murder and did nothing to help her. For years, people left flowers in the doorway where Kitty died. “We all felt so bad after it happened,” one storeowner said. “It was tragic 51 years ago and it’s still tragic, but it doesn’t represent people who live her now,” the storeowner said. “Old-timers remember Kitty, we remember how she died, and we remember the 38 witnesses. It’s not something you can forget.”

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