Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Kitty Genovese Murder


Catherine Genovese (courtesy Vincent Genovese)
Catherine Genovese
(courtesy Vincent Genovese)

During the 1960s, when there was no shortage of drama in the nation's courtrooms, one murder case stood alone in its ability to shock the country. The crime was not as gruesome as some others, since many more were just as violent, and still more that easily surpassed it. The victim was an ordinary working girl, not at all wealthy and not a member of any elite class. Her name was Catherine Genovese, the 28-year-old daughter of Italian-American parents. But to millions of people who read her story when it first appeared in New York City's press, she would forever be remembered as "Kitty" Genovese. What happened to her, what happened to all of society on that dreadful night in the spring of 1964, would reverberate across the country and generate a national soul-searching that is reserved for only the most catastrophic of events. And nearly 40 years later, her name has become synonymous with a dark side of an urban character that, for many people, represents a harsh and disturbing reality of big city life.

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