|"An inordinate fascination with ants."|
"Winston Moseley, who stalked, raped and killed Kitty Genovese in a prolonged knife attack in New York in 1964 while neighbors failed to act on her desperate cries for help — a nightmarish tableau that came to symbolize urban apathy in America — died on March 28, in prison. He was 81.
Mr. Moseley, a psychopathic serial killer and necrophiliac, died at the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., near the Canadian border. He had been imprisoned for almost 52 years, since July 7, 1964, and was one of the state’s longest-serving inmates.
His life behind bars had been relatively eventful. [What an interesting understatement.] Mr. Moseley was condemned to die in the electric chair, but in 1967, two years after New York State abolished most capital punishments, he won an appeal that reduced his sentence to an indeterminate life term. While at Attica Correctional Facility, in 1968, he escaped while on a hospital visit to Buffalo, raped a woman and held hostages at gunpoint before being recaptured. He joined in the 1971 Attica uprising; earned a college degree in 1977; and was rejected 18 times at parole hearings, the last time in 2015.
...Ghastly as the details of Mr. Moseley’s attack were — selecting Ms. Genovese at random, stabbing her at least 14 times as she screamed and pleaded for help, retreating into the shadows as lights went on in apartments overhead, returning to rape and finally kill her — they by themselves might not have placed the case, or the Moseley name, into the annals of crime.
...Two weeks later, The Times published a more extensive, though flawed, front-page account quoting the police and Ms. Genovese’s neighbors. “For more than half an hour 38 respectable, law-abiding citizens watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks in Kew Gardens,” it began.
“Twice the sound of their voices and the sudden glow of their bedroom lights interrupted him and frightened him off. Each time he returned, sought her out and stabbed her again. Not one person telephoned the police during the assault; one witness called after the woman was dead.”
“I didn’t want to get involved,” a witness said, using a phrase that was thought to encapsulate the age.
While there was no question that the attack occurred, and that some neighbors ignored cries for help, the portrayal of 38 witnesses as fully aware and unresponsive was erroneous. The article grossly exaggerated the number of witnesses and what they had perceived. None saw the attack in its entirety. Only a few had glimpsed parts of it, or recognized the cries for help. Many thought they had heard lovers or drunks quarreling. There were two attacks, not three. And afterward, two people did call the police. A 70-year-old woman ventured out and cradled the dying victim in her arms until they arrived. Ms. Genovese died on the way to a hospital.
Psychologists and criminologists called the reluctance of witnesses to involve themselves the “bystander effect,” or the “Kitty Genovese syndrome.” Studies discerned a “diffusion of responsibility,” finding that people in a crowd were less likely to step forward and help a victim."
...Captured five days later during a burglary, Mr. Moseley confessed to the murders of Ms. Genovese and two other Queens residents: Annie Mae Johnson, 24, who had been shot and burned to death in her South Ozone Park apartment in February, and Barbara Kralik, 15, who had been stabbed in her parents’ Springfield Gardens home the previous July. Both women had been sexually assaulted.
...At his own trial, Mr. Moseley pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the killing of Ms. Genovese, but was found legally sane, convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death at a time when New York State still employed the electric chair. (The state abolished the death penalty in 1965 for all but limited circumstances.)
As spectators cheered the verdict, the presiding judge, Justice Irwin J. Shapiro of State Supreme Court, said he did not believe in capital punishment, but added: “I must say I feel this may be improper when I see this monster. I wouldn’t hesitate to pull the switch on him myself.”
Winston Moseley was born in Manhattan on March 2, 1935, to Fannie Moseley. Her husband, Alphonse Moseley, was not his biological father, a fact withheld from the boy until late in his childhood. His parents were often separated. Winston grew up a bright but troubled boy, who had an inordinate fascination with ants."