September 1, 2017: Kitty Genovese: The Murder That Shocked New York

September 02, 2017 at 5:30 am

Previously aired on May 31, 2016.    

The year was 1964. Kitty Genovese, a 28-year-old bar manager, was on her way home from work when she was attacked, raped and murdered. Her cries rang out through a sleepy Queens neighborhood. Legend has it that as many as 38 people heard what was going on and did nothing to stop it. That story soon spread around the world, but is that what really happened? Forget what you think you know because we go inside the case with Kitty’s brother, William Genovese, who has made it his personal mission to set the record straight. Genovese is now the star of a documentary about his sister’s murder called The Witness, and he stops by along with the film’s director to talk about the case and its lasting impact on New York City. Next, nearly two weeks after her murder, Kitty Genovese was on her way to becoming just another victim in New York City where hundreds of people are killed every year. But a lunchtime sit-down between the police commissioner and a New York Times editor quickly changed just that. The newspaper ran a story reporting that 38 people had watched as a killer stalked and stabbed Genovese. Years later The New York Times corrected its reporting to say that many facts in the report were not true, but the impact of that original article still shapes public perception of the case today. We dissect where the media went wrong and the evolution of the false narrative with investigative journalist and author Diane Dimond. Then finally, despite the urban legend surrounding Kitty Genovese’s murder, her case continues to be studied because of the reportedly large number of people who failed to come to her aid that lonely night. That behavioral reaction has come to be known as “The Bystander Effect” or “Kitty Genovese Syndrome.” Kitty Genovese authority and Fordham University professor Harold Takooshian joins us to discuss what could have happened that night and he’ll show us firsthand, through experiments staged on the streets of New York City, how “The Bystander Effect” or “Kitty Genovese Syndrome” can take hold.