ISBN: 9781615194124
Published: February 27, 2014
Price: $12.95 US
Paperback: 90 pages
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Fifty Years After Kitty Genovese
Inside the Case That Rocked Our Faith in Each Other

Five decades later, we’re still asking ourselves: “If I had been there, would Kitty have lived?”

Fifty years after she was viciously attacked in full view of several neighbors and within earshot of still more, the name of murder victim Kitty Genovese still conjures the ugly spectre of American apathy. “37 Saw Murder but Didn’t Call Police” ran the Times headline that created a legend. A thirty-eighth witness did call—“after much deliberation”—half an hour after the first attack left Kitty wounded on the street. By then, her killer had returned and finished the job: Kitty Genovese lay dying in a stairwell, just steps from the safety of her own apartment.

The apparent indifference of Kitty’s neighbors to her screams—and the cold-blooded calm of the killer who came back—fixed this case in the memory of detective chief Albert Seedman. Ten years later, he gave coauthor Peter Hellman the inside scoop on the murder that haunts a quiet corner of Kew Gardens, Queens—and the American conscience.

Seedman’s account of the investigation, now bookended by incisive new commentary from Hellman, is as gripping today as ever, and the plight of Kitty Genovese as chilling. When Seedman questioned the murderer about Kitty’s neighbors, he replied, “I knew they wouldn’t do anything. People never do. That late at night, they just go back to sleep.” If he struck today, would we prove him wrong?

“Excellent archival document research.”—PsycCRITIQUES

Albert A. Seedman (1918–2013) was an NYPD deputy inspector overseeing four Queens detective squads when Kitty Genovese was murdered. An unlikely policeman when he first joined the force (he had been a certified public accountant), he ultimately rose through the ranks to become Chief of Detectives in New York City—at the helm of an investigative force second only to the FBI in size. A legend in his own time, he is remembered for his keen insights into the many high-profile cases that crossed his desk.

Peter Hellman, a New York–based journalist and author for more than 40 years, has been a contributor to Wine Spectator for more than a decade. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York magazine, and many others. His books include When Courage Was Stronger than Fear, Chief!, and Fifty Years After Kitty Genovese. He and his wife, Susan, live in New York City.