Kitty Genovese

Hello Everyone… Tonight I will taking us back to 1964, in Queens, New York. I planned to talk about Kitty Genovese last month, for my pride month but life got in the way and stopped me from posting as much. Kitty’s tragic case includes a brutal murder and the infamous bystander effect.

Disclaimer: This post discusses to subjects of sexual assault and a brutal attack. If any of these subjects are a trigger for please take care of yourself, and check out some of my other stories! My goal is to never victim blame nor do I make excuses for people who commit these horrendous crimes. I believe in learning from these tragic events. Its important to look at suspects and their history, to look at why this happened and how it can be avoided in the future.

The Early Life of Kitty

Catherine (Kitty) Susan Genevese was born in Brooklyn, New York on July 7, 1935. She was oldest of five children born to her Italian American parents, Vincent Andronelle Genovese and Rachel (née Giordano). Raised in a Catholic family, she grew up in a brownstone in Park Slope. Park Slope is a neighborhood in northwest Brooklyn.

Kitty graduated from Prospects Heights High School, which at the time was an all-girls school. When asked about Kitty, classmates remembered her as a good student. In her senior year, her class voted her the Class Cut-up. Class Cut-Up was a term that is similar to class clown. She graduated in 1953.


After graduating, in 1954, her mother witnessed a murder. The family decided to move to New Canaan, Connecticut, while Kitty remained in Brooklyn with her grandparents. She decided to stay to plan her upcoming wedding to the military cadet she was dating. However, by the end of 1954, the couple annuled the marriage, because Kitty came to terms with the fact that she was lesbian.

Kitty then moved into her own apartment, remaining in Brooklyn. She worked several clerical jobs, but she did not like it at all. By the late 1950s, she started to work as a bartender. She loved this job a lot more and customers adored her. In August of 1961, police arrested her for bookmaking. She ultimately fined 50 dollars and lost her job. Bookmaking, better known as a bookie, is the person that places bet for you.

Kitty soon started to work as a bartender at Ev’s Eleventh Hour Bar, which was located in Hollis, Queens. Not Long after, she managed the bar. She began to work double shifts, in order to save money, to be able to open her own Italian restaurant.

Finding Love

Another reason that Kitty may have decided to stay in New York is that it had a stronger LBGT community than other places, at the time. In March 1963, while at a lesbian bar named Swing Rendezvous, in Greenwich Village, she saw a woman made her way through the crowd, heading to the bar. Kitty asked the woman if they knew each other. the women danced,never exchanging names or numbers. Kitty asked around and found the woman’s apartment and tapped a note to her door that said “WILL CALL YOU AT THE CORNER PHONE BOOTH AT 7-KITTY G”. She soon found out that the woman she talked to was Mary Zielonko.

The women soon started to date, and moved in together very quickly. They moved into an apartment located in Kew Gardens, in Queens, at 71-80 Austin Street. Their close friends and families knew about them as a couple, however, publicly they kept it private, due to it being against the law until 1980 in New York.

“Being a gay woman in that society was very hard, so we were in the closet a lot. In fact, her family didn’t know. I mean, they know now, but there was denial there. It was very hard then.” -Mary Zielonko

Only a year after the couple were together, tragedy would strike their happy home.

Mary Zielonko,in recent times


On March 13, 1964, around 2:30 A.M., She ended her shift at Ev’s Eleventh Hour Bar, and headed home in her red Fiat, planning to spend her anniversary with Mary. While stopped at a traffic on Hoover Avenue, unaware that a predator was watching her in a Chevrolet Corviar, continues to her home. Around 3:15, she parked her car in the Kew Gardens Long Island Rail station, located 100 feet, or 30 meters, in an alleyway behind her apartment. The man parked at a corner bus stop, left his vehicle, and walked toward her when she walked toward her apartment.

The man approached her, a hunting knife in hand, and she ran towards the door. He then ran after her, and over powered her, stabbing her twice in the back. She screamed “Oh my God, he stabbed me! Help me!”, but all of her pleas seemed unnoticed. Robert Mozler, one of her neighbors, yelled at him to leave her away. The man ran away and Kitty slowly made her way to the back of the complex. This caused her to be out of view of any possible witnesses and severely injured.

After neighbors saw the man get in his vehicle and drive away, he returned ten minutes later,in a different hat. Scanning the parking lot, he found her in the hallway, unconscious in the back of the building. She tried open the door, to feel defeat, realizing it was locked. He stabbed her several more times, sexually assaulted her, stole $49 (roughly 482 in 2023) dollars from her purse, and ran away.

Her neighbor and friend Sophia received a call from a neighbor, saying that she was in distress. Without hesitation, she got dressed and ran outside to find kitty in a vestibule, wedged against the door. When she was able to get the door open and found Kitty in a pool of blood, moaning and gurgling, Sophia cradled in her arms and yelled for a neighbor to call the police. Sophia did say that Kitty started to fight, not knowing if her attacker left or not. She said she kept reassuring her and later said that she hoped she knew Sophia stayed by her side. She did not want her to die , feeling alone. The ambulance arrived at 4:15 and she died on her way to the hospital. Kitty showed signs of defense wounds on her hands. On March 16, in New Canaan, She was buried at Lakeview Cemetery.

Sophia who held Kitty until the ambulance arrived

The Investigation

Around 4 AM, the police knocked on Mary’s door and gave her notification that Kitty was murdered. The police came back to her apartment to question Mary at 7:00 that morning. They found her being consoled by the neighbor Karl Ross with alcohol. They felt he became defensive, therefore they arrested him for disorderly conduct. Police also thought that, because Kitty was found at the bottom of his stairs, he should be considered a suspect.

Meanwhile, detectives John Carroll and Jerry Burns, investigated Mary for six hours. After they found out that they were a couple, they decided it was necessary to question her about their sex life. After losing the love of her life, this must have been so difficult. They considered her a suspect, due to her alibi of sleeping, not being provable and honestly, probably just an excuse for being homophobes.


On March 19, 1964, six days later, a local man named Raoul Cleary got suspicious when he saw a man leaving his neighbor’s home with a TV. When Raul asked him about this, the man told him that he was a removal man. Although, he was told by another neighbor, Jack Brown, that the neighbor is not moving.Jack disabled the vehicle to stop the man from leaving. The police arrested the man for suspected robbery. A detective remembered that his car matched the car at Kitty’s murder. He informed the detectives assigned to her murder. The suspect in question, a man named Winston Moseley, confessed to Kitty’s murder as well as two other women.

Winston Moseley

Winston, 29 years old at the time, lived in Ozone Park (almost 3 miles from Kitty’s neighborhood) and . He worked as a tab operator for Remington Rand, a typewriter manufacturer. A tab operator basically prepared the punched cards that were used for a digital computer.

He told Police that he killed Kitty, because he wanted to kill a woman and that they were easier to overpower. Winston, a married, father of three, woke up at 2 AM to find a victim, while his wife was working overnight, as a registered nurse. He was driving through queens, when he saw Kitty and followed her. In addition to the murders he confessed to, he confessed to 30 to 40 burglaries. After conducting psychiatric evaluations, doctors suggested he might be a necrophile.

The Trial

Winston, charged with the murder of Kitty, could not be charged in the other two murders. He confessed to the murders of Barbara Kralik and Annie Mae Johnson. A man named Alvin Mitchell confessed to the murder of Barbara, a 15 year old, found stabbed to death in her bedroom, by her parents. While at the hospital, before dying, Barbara, described a man that resembled Alvin, not Winston. Alvin interrogated for 50 hours, was a teenager who ended up confessing and repeated his confession on video.

Annie Mae Johnson, a 24 year-old wife and mother, found murdered in her home and shot repeatedly with a small caliber gun. When he confessed, the autopsy showed what they thought was a stabbing. Therefore, when he confessed to stabbing her with an ice pick, the detectives deduced he was lying.

On June 8, 1964, the trial of Kitty’s murder began and was presided over by Judge J. Irwin Shapiro. At first, Winston pleaded not guilty, but his lawyer later changed it to not guilty by reason of insanity. He described his crimes, in his testimony. On June 11, around 10:30 PM, The jury took seven hours, but found him guilty. On June 18, when given the death sentence, the judge said that although her did not believe in the death penalty, that he would pull the switch himself. He showed no emotion or remorse.

On June 23, Alvin’s trial for the Murder of Barbara began and Winston testified in his defense. He testified that he murdered her, after given immunity. The first trial ended in a hung jury, but in his second trial, the jury found Alvin guilty. In June 1967, Winston won an appeal, arguing he should have been able to claim that was medically insane and reduced his sentence to life.

Prison Life

Upon sentencing, they transported him to Attica Correctional Facility. In March 1968, Winston suffered an injury, due to a self-harm incident, and required minor surgery at Meyer Memorial Hospital, in Buffalo, New York. He used this opportunity to hit the transporting correctional officer, take his gun, and flee the hospital. He made his way to the home of a married couple, the Kulagas. Since they were away from the house, he was able to stay there undetected for three days, until they stopped by to check on the house. He held them hostage for over an hour, bonding and gagging the husband, raping the wife, and feeing in their vehicle. He drove to Grand Island and broke into a house, where he held a mother and daughter hostage for two hours. Winston released them and surrendered to the police, shortly after.

Charged with prison and escape and kidnapping, he pleaded guilty, and was sentenced two additional sentences of 15 years each, serving them concurrently with his life sentence. This means that he will serves the sentences at the same time. In September 1971, Attica had a riot that killed and wounded over a hundred inmates and correction officers. He later received his degree in sociology, in prison, from Niagara University.

Parole Hearings And Death

In 1984, He was up for parole and showed little remorse. He claimed that he was the real victim, because their trauma lasts a minute or two, where his is forever. He also said that Kitty’s death was only intended as a mugging, but sometimes people die. His parole was denied, most likely due to his lack of remorse and accountability.

In 2008, He was up for parole again, on the 44th anniversary of Kitty’s death, but was denied, because again he showed no remorse. He tried to get parole a total of 18 times, with no success. In one of these paroles, he claimed that a mobster killed kitty and he was the getaway driver. His son tried to say that his father killed her because she called his racial slurs. On March 28, 2016, he died at the age of 81. I could not find a cause of death and given his age, I am assuming he died of natural causes.

Bystander Effect and Creation of 911

This case is referenced in psychology textbooks, to explain the Bystander Effect, or Genovese Syndrome, which is the phenom where a group of people witness a crime or accident, and no one does anything, thinking someone else will. Reports stated that 38 people witnessed Kitty’s murder. Although there were bystanders that could have helped her, it was not as many. There are only two verified people that were bystanders. Joseph Fink, a security guard in the complex, saw the first attack and did nothing. Karl Ross,the man that comforted Mary, he heard Kitty scream, look out his window and saw the second attack. He could have call the police, but he did not. His friend told him, not to get involved, so he went back to bed. He only called when Sophia ran out and yelled at him to call.

Before the creation of 911 it was not as easy as it is today. If you had an emergency, you would have to call local police, fire, and medic numbers, or call 0 to get transferred. If you heard a busy signal, you would have to hang up and dial again. In 1968, 911 became the national emergency number and getting help in an emergency so much easier.

Final Thoughts

I usually try and give advice on what lessons can be learned, but Kitty was driving home from work. Winston stalked and attacked her for no reason. Nothing that she could have done, would have prevented it. The only advice I have is simple: if you see something, say something. Do not wait around for other people to do something.

Kitty seemed like such a wonderful person, who did not deserve to bleed out, while her calls for help were ignored. Winston was such a sick individual. I do not believe it was a mugging, because why else would her rape her. Neither do I believe the mob his angle or that she called him racial slur. I know it was a different time, but she just saw a black man and called him names. The fact that he escaped and comitted violent crimes, proves he is just a violent person. Join me in remembering Kitty, who was beautiful inside and out.


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