The Witness (2015) Movie Script

Go on through the right.
Here we are.
If you don't mind,
I'm gonna check out
sort of sight lines here.
I was 16 when my sister
Kitty was murdered
in New York City.
In an instant she was gone.
No one understood me
like Kitty.
Two weeks ago today
twenty minutes after 3:00
in the morning
it was a dark night.
Kitty Genovese, 28 years old,
drove her car
into this parking lot
at the Kew Gardens Station
of the Long Island Railroad as
she had been doing for a year.
She stopped, saw a man
against the wall
she didn't quite make it
halfway down the block
before the killer
drove a knife into her.
I heard the screaming, and I went to,
uh, the bedroom window
and I saw some girl
on her knees
and she was screaming,
"Help, help."
Just exactly what was it
you heard?
"Save me, save me."
Didn't this frighten you
or shock you?
Fifteen years ago, a young
woman was stabbed to death
in front of a Queens,
New York apartment
half a block from her home.
Tomorrow marks
what many people regard
as one of the most
shameful anniversaries
in New York City history.
Fifty years ago, her murder
led to the adoption
of the 911 system.
Police discovered
that more than 30 people
had witnessed her attack
and no one had picked up
the phone to call the police.
Lights came on
in the apartment building
a window opened, the attacker
got nervous and left
but not a single person
came to the rescue
no one even called
the police at a time
when the average response time
was 2 minutes.
So the man came back
and stabbed her again.
It sent a chilling message
suggesting that we were
each of us,
not simply endangered..
...but fundamentally alone.
Two weeks after
my sister Kitty's funeral
the "New York Times" published
a front-page story.
It barely mentioned
her killer.
Instead it focused
on Kitty's neighbors
and practically blamed
38 of them for her death.
"The Times" story
was seen as proof
that New York City
was uncaring
that America was
falling apart.
And my sister's been
the symbol
of bystander apathy
for decades.
The girl no one cared about.
But recently "The Times"
published a new article.
It challenged the accuracy
of its original report.
And others now claim
the story of 38 witnesses
is more myth than fact.
What did the witnesses
actually see or hear?
Were there really 38?
Why didn't they try
to help my sister?
For years, I avoided
the details of that night
because they were just
too painful
but it's worse
not knowing the truth.
Mr. Skoller?
- Bill?
- Yeah.
- Hi.
- How you doing?
Alright. How are you?
Charlie Skoller.
- Bill Genovese.
- How are you, Bill?
Nice to meet you.
Going around here
is anxiety provoking.
Are you sure
you wanna do this?
This has to be
very difficult for you.
No, I absolutely
I absolutely wanna do it.
It's interesting. When you
drive back here it's...
You know, when you're out
on Queens Boulevard there
it seems so,
for me anyway, city-ish.
Here now you're in this really
nice neighborhood.
This block is
all residential
one-family homes.
Pull into this parking lot.
Because that's where
your sister pulled her car
into this lane.
And this is where
Winston Moseley caught up to her
and struck the first blows
to her back.
Many of your sister's
really heard everything that was going on,
heard the screams
knew that an attack
was taking place
and knew
that it was a violent attack.
It wasn't that your sister
was just screaming and screaming
she was yelling, "Help, help,
I'm being stabbed."
That was not just screams alone.
And Joseph Fink was seated
in the lobby of the Mowbray.
He was the night
elevator operator
and he saw the entire
first attack take place
from beginning to end..
...and he knew exactly
what was happening.
And instead of doing anything,
he got on the elevator
went downstairs,
went to his apartment
and went to sleep.
Now, as she was being attacked
in this hallway
Karl Ross looked down
and he saw
that second attack take place.
And he went to the telephone
called his girlfriend.
She said, "Don't get involved."
It just kills me to think
that when he first looked down
he could have ended it
right there by doing something.
He could have yelled down, "I'm
calling the police." And that...
Yes. Or, "The police
are on their way."
How much time do you think,
if you can remember
from the first attack
to when he finds her again?
I would say about a half
an hour, possibly 40 minutes.
Long enough for somebody
to have called the police
and for the police
to have arrived
and probably to save
your sister's life.
Turns out,
I'm not the first
to look for these witnesses.
We traced Karl Ross
to this pet store
but we found that he'd sold it.
The new people here kindly
agreed to contact him for us
but Karl Ross remains silent.
Mr. Koshkin, I wanted
to ask you one more time
if you would speak to us?
20/20 had no luck
interviewing witnesses
in 1979.
If I was going
to have more success
Charlie Skoller suggested
that I start
with the trial transcript.
My family couldn't bear
to go to the trial in 1964
so I never heard the testimony
of the witnesses.
Only 5 of the 38 witnesses
were called to take the stand.
Samuel Koshkin, Robert Mozer
Sophie Farrar, Andree Picq
Irene Frost.
I heard a shriek.
I got outta bed,
went to the window
and I saw a man and a woman
standing across the street
by the bookstore.
I looked at them for a minute.
Nothin' happened,
so I got back to bed.
The second time she screamed
"Please, help me, God.
Please help me.
I've been stabbed."
I went to the window,
and as I got there
she was kneeling down
on the sidewalk
and he was running
up the street.
Did you know
Irene Frost at all?
She worked
for your grandfather.
Oh yeah, oh yeah.
I know the name well.
My grandfather didn't know much
about running the business
and apparently
I... Irene stole
several $100,000 from him
so her name
doesn't sit too favorably
in the Hirsch family.
Now, do you know
if she's alive
or dead at this point?
Oh, she's long dead.
I saw this girl
at the bookstore kneeling
and this fellow had her down
bending over her.
And I hollered,
"Hey, get out of there."
And he jumped up and ran.
He ran like a scared rabbit.
I never saw anybody
take off as quick.
I heard the voice upstairs.
Suddenly, the neighbor's
screaming something
and the man ran away
very fast, near the bus stop.
The poor girl get up slowly..
...and she screamed, "Help!"
And walking slowly
toward the drugstore
and up towards
the back street.
I was still at the window
scared, kind of frozen.
And a few minutes
after that man came back
walking normally
as if nothing happened.
And then he went down
to the train station
and then he came out again
and left in the back
and I could not see anything..
...but I heard
the last 2 screams.
"Help, help."
is this the Michael Farrar from Kew Gardens?
Michael, I just
recently found out
that your mom was with my sister
when she passed away.
I was wondering if she'd be
willing to talk to me?
My mom, she really
liked Kitty.
And, you know, she can't get
around no more
but I spoke to her
and she told me stuff
that I couldn't hear when I was
younger, what happened and all.
We'll get into that later.
This was Kitty's
apartment here.
- On this side?
- Right here, yes.
And then yours
is straight ahead?
This room here,
this was my room.
Kitty's window is right there.
When I went
to school sometimes
if Kitty would have coffee
and toast with my mom.
Kitty confided in her a lot.
They were friends
and they talked
about whatever women
talked about, you know.
So that night,
what happened?
I mean, in your house,
what happened?
A... a scream,
a loud, loud scream
a horrible,
blood curdling scream
and it woke me up.
How many people
do you think heard it?
Just looking at the windows,
about 40, 50
could be 60
because it was so loud.
Uh, the whole neighborhood
had to hear it.
And this neighborhood
back in the 60s
I remember
a lot of the older people
they had numbers on their arms
they were
in concentration camps.
That type of a person
might not wanna get involved
with authorities because of
what happened with the Nazis
so, you know, you can't blame
people for being afraid.
But that night
when I walked up the hallway
my parents were up, out,
this window was open
and my father was looking out
the window.
Well, he didn't see anything
so my parents went back to bed.
About 20 minutes later or so
somebody called my mom
and that's when my mom
said to my father
"Kitty's in the hall bleeding."
And she just grabbed her jacket
and threw it on.
And she started to run
and my father was putting
his pants on
and he says,
"Wait, wait for me."
And she ran down.
So she comes in, it's 3:30
in the morning or thereabouts
and it's freezing cold.
It was cold March..
...and this is actually
the doorway.
When my mom tried to open
the door, it hit Kitty
and she was facing her head
towards the door
her feet towards the stairs
and my mother had to push
the door in to get in.
She held her,
and she could feel
the stab wounds in her back
and her hands kept going,
still fighting
and my mom
finally calmed her down
but she couldn't talk
and she started to gurgle.
That was her, she was just
passing then
she was dying, so...
Hours later I opened the door
and the whole bottom
of this foyer was blood.
But you could actually
smell the blood.
You know, it's like something
you don't forget.
It's like walking
in an old butcher shop
how you could smell that
the... the human, the meat.
It... You know, it...
The prints on the wall
were marked in pencil
1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
And it wasn't until
I was talking to my mother
and I said when I looked in,
I saw the handprint.
And she says, "That was
my fingerprints on the wall."
- Your mom?
- Yeah.
'Cause when she went
to get up, she was like
she went and she put her hands
on the wall.
My mom spoke to one woman
from a newspaper back then
and she told her what happened
and the woman says
you know, "Would you do that
again, if you had to? "
And my mother says,
"Certainly, of course."
When the paper come out,
it says my mom said
that she would never get
involved with it
and that's when my mother says,
"It don't pay to talk
because they twist
what you say."
And that's, she never said
anything know.
Do you think your mother
would talk to me?
I... I'll twist her arm a little,
you know, but I think she would.
Not, not too hard, but...
I think that she would
do that.
Thank you so much.
I wish it could have been
different circumstances.
- Yeah, really.
You know, give the best
to your family and...
Why was Sophia left out
of the original story?
It would have made such
a difference to my family
knowing that Kitty died
in the arms of a friend.
Truth is my family doesn't know
much about Kitty's murder.
The only time we learned
any details of that night
was in 1995.
That's when the killer
appealed for a retrial.
It briefly brought us
face to face with the man
who murdered and attempted
to rape Kitty.
Hearing those details
for the first time
was unbearable for me
and my siblings.
Speaking for myself.. never goes away.
I never forget the day
that the policemen
in New Canaan
came to our door,
knocked on it..
...and told us what happened.
It was very early
in the morning
and the doorbell went off
and I think
I was awakened by that
and I heard
the... the conversations.
And then, then, then
just ex... extreme
like piercing, screaming.
And then freezing in my bed.
My mother, my mother
was a basket case.
My father was also.
My father couldn't even
identify my, my, uh
sister's body in the morgue. He
had to send his brother there.
And the neighbors
are all like
"Oh, my God,
what can we do for you? "
And it's like, uh...
"Why don't you take,
why don't you take Frank? "
I... I just went off
to the McSweeny's.
I was with them for weeks.
I never even went
to my sister's funeral.
It was all over the news,
So, I got a lot
of my information
just from sneaking maybe,
and turning on a TV and...
The only thing we could
think about is the tragedy.
We almost erased her
from our lives.
Bill, it's hard to say
how he handled it.
I... I... I really, you know,
we really never sat down
and talked about it.
She took a...
a shine to Billy.
She spent a lot of time
with him.
Kitty and I were separated
when I was 6.
That year my parents decided
the city
was getting too dangerous
so we left
for New Canaan, Connecticut.
Kitty had already
graduated high school
and much to my parent's
she decided
to stay in the city.
For the next 10 years,
I only saw her on weekends
when she would come to visit.
We'd have a lot of fun driving
around in her red Fiat.
But the best part was talking
late into the night.
Kitty seemed to know
about everything.
And I was a curious kid
and asked a lot of questions.
Kitty always took the time
to answer them.
For decades, the identity
of the so called 38 witnesses
has been a mystery.
If I was going to track
any of them down
first I'd have to find out
who they were.
I requested all the information
on my sister's murder
from the New York police
They sent me copies
of the original detective
accounts of witness interviews
called DD5's.
I saw her, she was wearing
a black coat and high heels
and the coat was held
around her body.
She was a, a small girl...
- Terrific scream.
What I thought at first
was some cat...
It sounded like a child.
- And I looked out to see and I couldn't see anything.
- Otherwise I...
The police want to know your name and
everything and they get people involved.
These kind of people don't want to get involved.
- Why didn't we do something?
I mean, I... I feel
a terrible guilt.
Much of the reports
were illegible.
And almost all the names
had been redacted.
I was at a dead end
without the names.
But I thought of someone
who might be able to help.
20/20 has gone back
to reexamine
what has become
a classic case
not of crime,
but of social behavior.
- Hello?
- Aram?
- Yes.
- This is Bill Genovese.
My sister was Kitty Genovese.
Oh, yes.
Oh, my goodness.
Did you, did you have any luck in
reaching any of the witnesses?
I did try
to track them down, yes.
I used to have a file.
Uh, I have some stuff
at Columbia
and, uh, if it were anywhere
it could be there.
The list Aram had found
contained summarized versions
of the witness accounts.
Most importantly,
it had the names.
These statements
from the neighbors
matched the DD5 reports.
So Aram's list must have come
from the police interviews.
When I added up the number
of entries, there were 38.
Could these be
the 38 witnesses?
Lynne, I presume.
- Yes, Bill, I presume.
- Yes, and you're Tod.
- This is Tod. Bill.
- Uh, Bill.
- How're you doing?
Can I help?
- Nah, I'm good.
- Okay.
Can't we help you?
Over here, yeah.
So, you lived
in the Mowbray?
What apartment, what floor?
Second floor. 214.
Did you feel
like the neighborhood was safe?
Cause you were 19, 20
around 1964.
Did you feel you could come
and go in the evening?
Oh, yes,
but I could see people
and they would just pull down
the shades or...
There was a fear.
There was a fear
in that building, I think.
What was your experience
that night?
I heard a scream.
It woke me up.
I looked out the window,
I didn't see anything
I didn't hear any more.
And I said, "Oh, well."
I went back to sleep.
Did it wake your parents up?
No, as far as I know.
The next morning the detectives
were pounding on the door
and I told them what I had,
you know, experienced.
Do you think you were
1 of the 38
that were reported
to have done nothing?
I... I supposed I could be
I could be counted
in with that.
When the police...
Because I woke up
I looked out the window...
and I went back to bed.
But I wasn't in that group.
- Yeah.
I... I, that was not my
behavior in that, in that.
- Yeah.
- Yeah.
In my research, your name
and your mom's name
is down there as saying
"I heard, George, he's..."
Eh, let me get it right
"George, he's, he's done it
to me.
George, he's done it to me."
And then, "Please help me."
So, you and your mom
you were probably counted
as part of the 38.
And, according
to your remembering
your mom never said anything?
No, as far as I know,
she never spoke to the police at all.
Wow, I have no idea
who George is
but I, I never heard
of anything like that.
And as far as I know
momma was asleep.
That is shocking.
- Come on in.
- Hello.
- How are ya?
- You're Hattie?
- Yes.
- Hi, Bill Genovese.
- Nice to meet you.
- How're you doing?
Nice strong grip.
Were you ever interviewed
by the police?
Yes, I think I was, yeah.
This is what they recorded
anyway, that you said to them.
"Hattie Grund, saw a woman
screaming, "Help."
"She was standing in front of cleaners.
No male was present."
That's true. I heard somebody
saying "Help, help.."
...from what I recall
and then I called the police.
- You called the police?
- Always.
And they said,
"We already got the calls."
- Hmm.
- I didn't even finish my statement.
And they said,
"We've already gotten the call."
It wasn't that people
didn't call.
There might have been other
people that called..
...because once you got
the police station
before you could finish they
said, "We've gotten the calls."
When news reporters, uh,
came to talk to you, uh
were they pushing the, you know,
the witness story and asking...
Oh yeah, they were persistent in
getting information, you know.
And that's the thing Kew Gardens
got a little aroused
when they said they were,
we were apathetic.
We were not. There are always
a few people that call.
After hearing
Hattie Grund claim
she and others
called the police.
I requested the police log of
phone calls from that night.
The only call they list
is from Karl Ross
well after Moseley was gone.
Did the police fail
to log the calls?
Or did Hattie just create
a story she could live with?
A witness who doesn't know
she's a witness.
So many other missed details
of that night.
Like the fact that Kitty
didn't die alone.
How could anything be believed
about this story?
I never questioned it.
Two years after Kitty's death
I graduated high school.
The Vietnam War
was in full swing.
Many of my peers were looking
for ways not to serve.
Whether the war
was right or wrong
I couldn't help but see them
as apathetic bystanders.
I wasn't going to be like
the 38 witnesses
So I enlisted in the Marines.
And at 18, you're going off
to war and you're thinking
"I'll come home okay."
I think he's looking
for the ultimate inner peace.
The choices that he made
in his life
um, were all related to the fact
that no one
helped his sister.
And if he knows the truth,
that's a peacefulness.
I mean, I'm hoping for Bill
that there'll be closure.
You know, like he didn't
lose his legs
in Vietnam for nothing.
The version of the story
that was accepted as fact
for so many years was written
by the late reporter
Martin Gansberg.
His editor at "The Time"
was a man named Abe Rosenthal
who became a major figure
in journalism.
From what I've found,
it's Rosenthal
who's credited with breaking
the story.
And later that year
he wrote a book called
"38 Witnesses."
This story has never died.
I still get mail about it,
people write theses about it.
There are lectures
and seminars at universities.
They are obsessed
by this story.
It's like a jewel.
You keep looking at it
and different things
occur to you.
It's affected my approach
to life, I think.
Okay, sir.
According to his book,
he first heard my sister's name
when he had lunch
with the city's police chief
10 days after the murder.
I was, uh, nauseated
at the idea
that people in New York City
in Queens, knew that a girl
was getting killed.
And later they dis,
it was discovered
that 38 people
didn't do anything.
It was the failure
of New York City
or the people
of New York City
to take action, stick out
a hand, do something.
- Right.
- Shout, "Hey, we need help."
And that was what grabbed
the people of the city
and other cities.
Well, where did
the number 38 come?
I wonder was it synthesized somehow to make a big impact?
- No.
So that we could
get a positive.
I mean,
for a positive result...
You asked the question
and I'm telling you.
I can't swear to God
that there were 38 people.
Some people say
there were more
some people say
there were less
but what was true..
...people all over the world
were affected by it.
Did it do anything?
You bet your eye
it did something.
And I'm glad it did.
Forty years after
the original article appeared
the "New York Times"
reexamined their account.
They acknowledged some of
the original article's flaws
and highlighted the questions
surrounding the story.
Most of the revisionist
came from Joe DeMay.
A Kew Gardens resident
and amateur historian.
I sat down and I read
through the article
and when it was all through
I thought to myself
"What the heck this,
this can't make
this doesn't make
any sense at all."
If you read
through the article
the first paragraph
is crystal clear
and absolutely riveting.
For more than half an hour
38 respectable,
law-abiding citizens
in Queens watched a killer
stalk and stab a woman
in 3 separate attacks
in Kew Gardens.
Well, turns out there weren't
38 eyewitnesses at all.
The witnesses to the case,
with one or two exceptions
were ear witnesses,
not eye witnesses.
What happened is this.
There was an initial attack
on Austin Street
that was broken off,
the killer fled.
Your sister then got up
and she walked around
to the back of the building.
The people in the apartment
building could not
have seen her for more
than a couple of minutes.
When they saw him come back
the few witnesses
that were still at their
windows, Kitty was long gone
as far as they knew
she was some place safe.
So, yeah, the story
was generally correct
but in a lot of the important
details it was grossly
exaggerated and simply
not true.
When I first came upon
his website
my first reaction
was to sort of brush it off.
But then I came back
and read it very closely
and realized, "Wow, his argument
is incredibly compelling."
If the story had been reported
more accurately
it still would have been
a 2 or 3 day
maybe... maybe even 4 day story
but it would not have been
a 50 year story.
We would not still be sitting
here talking about it today.
Did anybody ever challenge
the 38 witness
38 eyewitness story?
Yeah. Not at the time.
Not in 1964.
In fact to the contrary.
Other newspapers, other
magazines, "Li-Life Magazine"
ran with it and then even
exaggerated it further.
This is Mike Wallace.
Why did 38 people fail to act?
The answer to that question
concerns every one of us
who fears perhaps that apathy
has become part
of our way of life.
The question becomes
was it worth
all the attention it got
or was it a media creation?
Oh, I think to a certain
degree it was a media creation.
No one investigated the 38.
No one followed up on it
or anything of that nature.
Do you have any feel
for why that would have been
with this case
versus any other case?
Because it was taken
by "The New York Times."
The reason I picked up on it..
...was because Abe Rosenthal
is a man I respect.
Good reporter, in a position
of authority
at "The New York Times."
I mean, "The Times" had, still
does, but back then particularly
had that kind of clout.
It's a fascinating...
troubling story.
And undoubtedly,
sold newspapers.
- Hi, is this Mr. Lelyveld?
- Yes, sir.
When did you start working
at "The Times? "
I became a reporter
in 1963, I guess.
Do you think the original
"Times" story is accurate?
- I remember feeling it was a little skimpy.
- Yeah.
That it, that it reached
its judgment quickly.
Have you ever heard
of a woman named Sophia Farrar?
Sophia Farrar actually did
go down to be with her
as soon as she found out
about it.
And did the police list her
as a witness in their reports?
Yeah, she testified in court.
And she's not mentioned
in "The Times" story?
Well, that's just, uh
that's inexcusable then.
The question would be
why the competition
didn't look into it.
- Hi, Richard Wald?
- Speaking.
You were the managing editor
at "The New York Herald
Tribune" in '64?
Did "The Tribune"
ever write a story
about how "The Times"
covered the story of 38?
No, I don't remember
"The Tribune" ever doing that.
Let's assume you were
a reporter on the scene.
If you had a sense
that it didn't happen
that way,
I would have assigned people to go and check.
But I don't know
any reporter
who felt that way.
- Mr. Pressman.
- Hi, Bill. How are you?
Good. I'm good.
In 1964,
I was a reporter at WNBC
and I had no first hand
knowledge of the story
but my friend Danny Meenan
covered the story.
At this point
he was doing radio
I believe for WMCA,
and, uh
among all the police reporters
I've known
and I've known many,
he was one of the best
if not the best.
He said, "The story doesn't make
any sense to me."
And he gave me an account of
uh, what he found.
And it says here,
"There were many witnesses.
"Some 30 odd in the number.
"One conclusion all seemed
to have, it was a drunken brawl
between man and wife."
Martin Gansberg, the author
of the "Page One Story"
in "The Times"
which caused the furor,
was challenged
by this irate reporter.
"Why didn't you include
in your story
"the fact that many
witnesses did not
believe a murder
was taking place? "
Gansberg replied..
"...It would have ruined
the story."
That to me is incredible.
It's curious to me why,
and I'm not trying
to blame Danny Meenan
or yourself or anybody else
but why...
how come people didn't call
"The Times" out on that?
Because it was
"The New York Times"
and Danny, you know,
he had to continue
to hold on to his job.
I don't think that he
probably was interested
in taking on Abe Rosenthal
and "The New York Times."
A couple of years passed,
I was teaching a course
and this seemed
to be something
that the class
would want to explore.
A couple of the people
in my class being enterprising
I guess you would say,
called Rosenthal.
And Rosenthal called me.
He was really angry,
he was screaming at me.
"Do you realize," said Rosenthal
"that this story has become
emblematic of a situation
in America? "
"That it's become the subject
of sociology courses
books and articles."
And I think that
that is abhorrent
to anyone
who is interested in truth.
For me to hear that,
it's just shocking
because I grew up and moved
in certain directions
based on this story
being fact.
But indeed it was
not totally fact.
Did they say why they just
sat there doing nothing
while that girl
screamed for help?
They all had
the same answer.
They didn't wanna get involved.
A young woman
stabbed 14 times
then raped
outside her building.
While 40 of her neighbors
turned up their TVs
so they couldn't
hear the screams.
If you're a witness in one of these things,
you know what you gotta do?
Put on a shirt and tie,
you gotta go down to court...
So because of a little
you don't wanna get involved?!
Listen, let me explain
something to you, huh?
Shut up!
You look at things
that happen in the world
and that's one of the ways
that you decide
what course
you're gonna take.
And if those things
aren't accurate
then you could
chart the wrong course.
If Kitty Genovese
is a name
that immediately summons
something to people's minds
then that thing that gets
summoned should be the truth.
So, that's everyone who,
who saw...
These are witnesses.
Witnessed in some way,
at least heard something.
And A.M. Rosenthal's the guy who wrote "38 Witnesses."
- Right.
The truth of the matter is,
38 people didn't see it.
Dr. and Mrs. Rubenstein
heard screams, "Help, help
they're killing me."
You know, I often wondered
how much detail
Billy would get into.
"He heard a woman scream
at about 3 o'clock."
So and so did this,
so and so opened the window,
so and so shouted,
so and so...
For what? She's dead.
She's murdered,
you know.
I don't want...
Why do I wanna hear that?
"Standing over her and repeatedly
striking her. The girl then..."
I personally never heard
a story
from my dad's family members
about Kitty.
I think her death
overshadowed her life
for anybody involved with it.
In some ways there was this
hush-hush about her life
because they couldn't talk
about her death.
It probably made it
more traumatic
because they weren't able
to celebrate her life.
They were focusing on her
death by hiding the fact
that she was even alive
to begin with.
I mean, to me,
she's a picture in a magazine.
I know her from things
I read on Wikipedia
or Googled or read randomly
in a book
when I was in high school
in English class
and didn't realize
it was my aunt
until about half-way through.
I know how she died.
- Yeah.
That's the story
I could tell you.
- Inside, dad?
- Yeah.
One more.
As you're beating your head up
against the wall
and having to relive
this murder scene
over and over again, it's like,
you know, you stop and say
"Why the hell
am I doing this?
This is, like, nuts.
I don't know, I guess
the message for me
and why I can't stop until
I feel like it's over.
Yeah, when is it over?
I... I'll know
when it's over.
Let me just describe something
really quickly.
My sister Kitty, for you,
would be
a combination of mom and me.
So imagine that.
Mom and I both get murdered
on the street.
Well, see, I never knew
it was like that for you.
Like, you've never...
I mean, you've never expressed
it in that way.
So the obsessive part of me
that's gotta get
to the end of it
the end isn't reached yet.
There's see... there's more
bases I'd like to touch.
For instance, like, Kitty
was married, did you know that?
No, I...
My sister was so much more
than her final 30 minutes.
But in our late-night talks,
her life in the city
barely came up.
All I knew was
she worked in a bar.
Was briefly married
to a man named Rocco.
In the past few years,
journalists have revealed
that her roommate Mary Ann
was actually her lover.
If I didn't know something
as important as that
how well did I really
know my sister?
Even though I haven't seen him
since I was 6
I decided to reach out
to Rocco.
"Dear Rocco, I've been working
with a filmmaker
for several years
on a documentary about Kitty."
"At this point, I have
questions about her life
"in New York
after high school
and I think you hold the key
to the answers."
"William, I respect the feeling
expressed in your message
"and I ask you do the same
for mine
which are to respect
my desire for privacy."
"My relations with Kitty shall
remain a mystery forever."
Hi, pops.
What are you doing?
I'm reading through
Kitty's yearbook.
"May we dance forever
on each others' feet"
Love and Stuff, Elsa."
So this is where you went
to high school?
This is where
we went to high school.
And when we played hooky,
we were in that park.
which we did a lot.
Did Kitty have any aspirations
of going to college?
And it's interesting
because she was smart.
But I don't remember her
ever striving for the "A."
Probably 'cause
we were all cut-ups.
Everyone loved Kitty.
She was funny, very witty.
She had an, an enormous
She was a very good mimic
of teachers
our French teacher.
She would do
the Sid Caesar thing
where she made believe
she was talking French.
To be in Kitty's clique
was a big deal.
We played hooky.
We went to the beach
or here in the park
or smoking on the roof.
And she was the head
of the pack.
So, you first heard
about Kitty's murder...
I remember reading the obit.
It said that she was a barmaid.
- Yeah.
And, um, I was, I...
I remember thinking,
"What a pity, what a waste"
that she wound up a barmaid.
- I'm Wally Brosnan, Bill.
- Wally, Bill Genovese.
I was a friend
of Kitty's, too.
- Good. Nice to meet you.
- Hiya, Bill.
- Nice to meet you.
- My pleasure.
Kitty started out
as a bar maid
but eventually she earned
a position as a bar manager.
Her last job was at a tavern
called "Ev's 11th Hour."
Somehow I didn't
imagine this.
The neighborhood's
changed quite a bit.
Neither did we.
We didn't imagine it either.
Big difference.
When did the bar open?
8 o'clock in the morning.
Now, you better
be here at 8:00.
Or else they'll be
knocking down the door.
Well, what was she like
in there, was she, you know
if there was trouble, did...
did anybody get into fights?
She cut off what's his name,
Harry Allerman
she cut him off, told him
he couldn't come in anymore.
Why, what was he doing,
screamin', yellin'?
Well, you know,
he was just a drunk.
So would you, would you...
Was she like a tough person
to deal with?
- No!
- She was a pussycat.
When, uh, when my
last daughter was born
she came to the hospital
with me.
- Oh, really?
- Yeah.
Yeah, she came
to the hospital with me.
She was just...
she was just good
like, she'd goof with ya.
You know, you'd goof with her
and she... right back at you
you know, right back at you.
What was Ev's bar like?
Uh, it was like,
uh, cheers.
Everybody knows everybody else
and everybody's business.
Do you think she liked
working there?
- Oh, she loved it. Yeah.
- Yeah?
Oh, yeah.
That bar was her home.
She was the queen
of the place.
Some of the people at the bar used
to think I was her boyfriend.
But I don't think
the people at the bar
had any idea she was gay.
I don't, in fact,
I'm positive they didn't know about it.
Oh, yeah. Everybody
knew that she was gay.
- Oh, really?
- Oh, yeah. Everybody knew.
And let's put it this way,
she was one of the boys.
I mean, guys used to borrow
money off her.
- Borrow money from her?
- Yeah.
Everybody in there gambled
in one way or another.
Kitty was arrested
for something
or charged with something.
What was that about?
Not that I knew of.
What do you guys
know about that?
No, I don't,
I don't remember that.
What she would do
people would give her bets
to give to the bookie.
And she got caught
in the middle.
People were giving
her bets and they said
"You're booking the horses."
That's, that's what happened.
She got locked up or something
for that one time. Yeah.
I didn't know my sister
was such a racketeer.
Kitty's arrest is the source
of the most famous
picture of her.
For years,
I wondered where did this image come from?
It wasn't until I looked
closely that I noticed
a piece of string
hanging around her neck.
A piece of string
that would have held up
her arrest identification.
So this was her mug shot.
It's hard for me
to picture that Kitty
when I think about the one
we saw when she come to visit.
She seemed right at home
in that role.
But she also seems to have
thrived in New York City.
Zipping around
in her little red Fiat.
Coming home alone
late at night.
There's one more person
who can tell me more about
Kitty's life in the city,
her lover Mary Ann.
She used to come to New Canaan
with Kitty on weekends.
I assumed
they were just roommates.
After Kitty died, we never
spoke to her again.
She declined to be
interviewed on camera.
But she did agree to let me
record our conversation.
Mary Ann, I...
I was always curious
how did you and Kitty meet?
It was either
the Duchess or the Sea Colony
I don't remember the name.
I was sitting at the bar
having a beer
and this woman comes up
to me and said
"Don't I know you
from somewhere? "
I said, "Well, no."
So then I said, "Well, I live
at 74th and Broadway."
I had a room and there's
a payphone across the street.
And so somehow she found it.
So I had a note on the door
when I came back home.
"I'm gonna call you at 7:00
on this payphone."
So she called me.
I fell very much
in love with her. Mmm.
Do you think Kitty
was in love with you as much?
I'm not sure.
I think she had conflicts
about being gay.
Because we would have,
we would have arguments around this.
I think in time,
she would have worked it out.
But she didn't have
the chance.
On the 13th, did you hear
anything that night?
This is hard because
I blocked a lot of this out.
The police woke me up.
They knocked on the door.
We went down to the morgue,
4 o'clock in the morning.
That's when I identified her.
I remember sitting
outside on the bench
and they said,
"We're gonna take you home."
I said, "No, I'm gonna
wait for her."
What about Karl Ross,
do you remember him?
- She cried out to him, right?
- Yeah.
He had the pet shop,
that's how we met him.
- Oh!
- He got the poodle for me.
We had an argument
and she bought it for me.
His name was Andrew.
Somewhere around the funeral,
your father, he came down there
and he said, "I want the dog
because it's Kitty's."
I said, "No, it's mine."
Thanksgiving afternoon
I woke up, the dog
was just gone.
Just gone.
I never saw him again.
I remembered,
after Kitty passed
Andrew appears at our house.
And I thought it was my dad's
way of cheering my mother up.
And it did just the opposite.
- Hmm.
I remember her saying,
"The dog needs to go back."
Then he disappeared.
I can't, I mean,
that's terrible.
I apologize
for my family for that.
That's... that's awful.
A trauma can be so bad
that it tears you up,
but somehow you have to heal
but right now,
I haven't healed.
You know, you feel you could
have saved somebody
if you only knew?
That's what I feel.
I totally understand that.
I slept with her shirt
for a long time.
What do you think needs
to happen for you to heal?
I don't know.
I really don't know.
Have you ever gone
to his parole hearings?
Maybe facing him
and seeing this
reprehensible human,
not even human being
would make me say,
"That's it."
You say that you remember
almost nothing of the murder?
The details of it, no.
Uh, it... it sort of
it... the length of time
when it was reconstructed
was approximately 32 minutes.
Is a total blank?
I remember the street.
I remember the act itself..
...but the details, no.
- You remember the act itself?
- Yes.
And what was it?
The act was the...
the swinging of a knife.
And that, uh,
really doesn't take a lot
to kill a person, I guess.
Could anything be gained
from sitting down
with Winston Moseley?
In his 49 years in prison,
I never seriously considered it.
In his 49 years in prison,
I never seriously considered it.
After all, Moseley not only
killed my sister
he destroyed my family.
My parents
never really recovered.
My mother had a stroke
the year after Kitty's murder.
My father died of a stroke,
when he was only 59.
My mother's faith got her
through those years
and she said she forgave
Moseley in her heart.
Before I try to meet him
face to face
I need to know more about him.
Winston Moseley was arrested 5
days after my sister's murder
while stealing a television
from a house in Queens.
This time, a neighbor
was good enough to intervene.
- How are you, sir?
- I'm good.
So, he saw Winston
going into the house?
Well my father was sitting
on a porch like he usually did.
He saw this gentleman
went into Banister's home
and my father says,
"What are you doing here? "
And he made a break
down the hill
and my father catches him
fell on top of him
and he couldn't move.
So he just called
the police department.
They came right away.
They put him in a patrol car
and took him away.
His demeanor was what?
He was just
as calm as can be.
Just as calm as can be.
And nobody came to my father's
to the house when we lived here
to sit down and say thank you.
You're the only one.
Somebody brought
in this small
meek-looking black guy.
And they brought the prisoner
up to the detective office.
One of the detectives
got an idea.
He said,
"Hey, you know that guy
"he looks like
he could be... match
the description of the...
the person who killed Kitty Genovese."
the description of the...
the person who killed Kitty Genovese."
And we started
to question him.
By the time we got done
talking to him
we knew we had one of the, uh,
most bloodthirsty killers
that I had ever met.
I was sitting
pretty much where you are.
And Winston Moseley sat in that
table right over there.
The best word to describe
Winston Mosley, is ice.
Nothing fazed him at all.
Nothing fazed him.
My dad was assigned
to represent
uh, Winston Moseley.
I was like a junior partner
in the office at the time
and Moseley was
a very, very bright
and manipulative individual.
He had an IQ of 135.
He had two children.
He had a good, well-paying job.
He was very soft-spoken.
The confession as
to Kitty's killing
just, sort of,
flowed normally as
as part of...
his conversational tone.
So it was, like,
"I stole a TV and, by the way
I killed this person? "
Moseley also confessed
to the murder of a woman
named Annie Mae Johnson.
He murdered her
outside her house
two weeks
before he killed Kitty.
According to Moseley,
he approached her
as she was getting out
of her car at night.
He shot her four times in
the stomach with a.22 rifle.
He then rolled
her body into the house
and raped her while her
unwitting family members
were upstairs.
She was still breathing
so he wadded up
some newspaper..
...piled them around her,
and lit the house on fire.
Two weeks after
he killed Annie Mae Johnson..
...Moseley crossed
Kitty's path.
While he was
attacking my sister
he knew people were watching.
He heard Robert Mozer
yell down
from the 7th floor
of the Mowbray.
He ran to his car,
sat for a few minutes
and decided that no one
was going to intervene.
So he changed hats
and headed back
to rape and murder my sister.
When he found her inside
the vestibule, Kitty screamed.
He heard the door open
at the top of the stairs
but quickly realized Karl Ross
was going to do nothing.
As he drove away from
Kew Gardens after the murder
Moseley crossed paths
with a driver
who had fallen asleep
at a red light.
He approached the car..
...held his knife
out of sight..
...gently woke the driver and
sent him safely on his way.
The jury found Moseley guilty
and sentenced him to death.
But Moseley appealed
and his sentence was reduced
to life in prison.
And that should have been
the last anyone
heard of Winston Moseley.
However, in 1968,
Moseley escaped from prison
and terrorized Buffalo,
New York.
Over the next four days
he broke into houses,
raped a woman at gunpoint..
...and took hostages
when the FBI closed in.
Neil Welch ran the FBI office
in Buffalo at the time
and he was the first
to arrive at the scene.
And I walked
immediately over
and stood in the front
of the building..
...and he said,
"Come in." you know.
He sat in a chair and
we were about 5 or 6 feet apart
and he's got the gun
pointed at me.
I had a gun in my left pocket.
I had a direct shot
right at him.
But, but in that direct
your take on him was..
- Dangerous.
- Yeah.
Well, I felt comfortable
in talking to him.
I put my hand out and I said
"Let me have the gun, Winston."
You have my guarantee that
you will be treated fairly.
One thing that I,
I was taken aback with
was how small he was.
You know,
I almost expected a larger
presentation of... of evil.
Since his escape,
Moseley seems to have transformed himself.
I'm going to continue
to try to do positive
instructive things
to try to make up
for those crimes.
In 1977, he completed
his sociology degree
from the confines of a cell.
That year, he also wrote an
editorial in the New York Times
claiming he was reformed.
This process is, is really,
a... aimed at helping you.
We know that by helping you,
we're probably going to help
Winston, assuming that
he is in a position
to meet with you voluntarily
and whether or not
you know, he's remorseful
for what he did.
So maybe we could start it off
by talking about
you know, what it is
you're trying to accomplish
by having a meeting, uh,
with, uh, Winston Moseley.
I'm curious as to
what his life was like
over the last 49 years.
Here, he murdered two people.
How does he think about that?
- Mm-hmm.
What did he think
about the events?
If, if he wants to offer that.
- Mm-hmm.
If that opens him up to where
he has things he wants to say
so be it. Let's hear it.
What about if he says no,
he's not willing to participate?
Well, I think
it'd be unfortunate..
...on one level.
And then,
on another level I think..
Well, that's a relief.
- Drink ourselves funny.
- Did you open my wine?
Oh, that one,
you got it.
Where's the stuff
on the bottom?
Where is it, I don't know.
I've got a bowl of pasta
with no clams.
That's... how'd you do that?
No there is.
Uh, some people say
they called the cops
the cops didn't react
because there was a bar
in this quiet neighborhood,
there was a bar
you know, people like,
it's again like a Rorschach
it's like, what do you see
in this senseless pattern
so we're trying
to get with Moseley.
Send him an email.
You sent him an email?
- Yep.
- Wow.
- What?
- What?
What's the, um..
What's the question, um..
What's the question..
What do you want answered?
At what point are you
going to be satisfied?
Well, the thing is,
sadly for me
one question leads
to another question
leads to another question
leads to 5 questions
leads to 10 questions,
and it's, uh
you know,
it's a geometrical thing.
We're now sitting here
we're still talking about Kitty.
And I'm okay with that..
- Yeah.
- But 50 years..
If you buried it,
you should have.
You should have
because it's, it's..
It's ea... it's easily
described as an obsession
on my part.
I really need to.
- Bury it.
- Yeah.
- Hello?
- Uh, hello, Bill.
Uh, this is Mark Collins,
and Janet is with me as well.
- Hi, Bill!
- Hi, Janet. How're you doing?
- Very good. How are you?
- Good.
We met
with Winston Moseley.
We are very, uh..
...very, uh,
disappointed, however
as... as,
as you will be that
he has chosen
not to pursue a dialogue
uh, process with you.
You know, he was very
clear that he's been contacted
by multiple media sources
and he's just, as he put it,
"Tired of being exploited."
You know, we know how
important this is for you
and so it was frustrating
for us to..
Obviously not nearly as
frustrating as you must feel.
So is that
the final w... word
or can I write a letter to him?
You're certainly
not barred or prohibited
from writing a letter to him,
I just don't see
him changing his mind.
- Yeah. I really appreciate it.
- Okay.
- Thank you very much.
- Okay, bye-bye, Bill.
Hi. Steven?
- Bill?
- Bill Genovese.
- Hi, I'm Steven.
- Yes.
Nice to meet you.
How do you like
to be addressed?
Reverend Moseley?
Or Steven Moseley? Or..
However you feel
comfortable calling me.
- Steven, if it's okay.
- That's fine.
I thought to be perfectly
straight with you
and to show you exactly
where I'm coming from
I spent many, many
hours and days writing this.
And in some places
it's gonna seem harsh
but I think that you probably
will be able to read it
and understand
where I'm coming from.
Yeah, I, uh..
...I see how you feel about,
uh, what happened.
- Yeah.
- When I was 7 years old.
Oh. No, I know.
I don't hold the son responsible
for the father's deeds.
Your dad won't talk to me..
...and I'm, uh,
trying to find a way
in my own heart
to forgive him.
Can... can I explain to you
what forgiveness does?
When you forgive people,
it's for yourself.
It's for you.
- Yeah.
How would you feel
about him getting paroled?
Because, know
if it had not been
for the, uh, notoriety
of this story..
...he'd have probably been
paroled by now.
But see my concern is
there's that part of him
that seems to be
a very good person
and there's that part of him
that maybe
he has no control over
that really is...for lack of
a better term, a monster.
50 years ago.
50 years ago, but my
concern is, where is he now?
Only thing I know
is from what he's told me.
You know?
He said he just snapped out.
Because there was some racial
tensions going on back then.
And your sister was using a lot
of racial slurs at him and
he just lost it.
That's what he told me.
- Mm-hmm.
- So I, I don't know.
Do you, do you realize
he killed another woman?
I.. That's something
that I'm not real
uh, you know, sure of...
And the other, the other
woman was African-American.
Okay, well, maybe he did
do that. I don't know, you know?
- Yeah.
- Uh, that's something we never discuss.
Um, I can only imagine
how you feel.
I don't know,
but I can imagine.
- Right.
- You took a loss, your family took a loss.
And my family took a loss.
You know, it affected everybody.
My brother and I, we... we
went through school with
uh, ridicule.
Uh, people, you know, they used
to pick with us and call us
children of a murderer
and all this.
So, what happened to your sister
changed my form
of thinking know.
And I wanted to be
the good guy
and try to fix
the badness in the world.
Now, you know, um,
let me just say this here..
I, I was kind of..
...apprehensive about
talking to you.
From what I've understood
there was a Genovese
crime family.
Are you related to the crime
family of the Genovese?
No, not at all.
I've always, uh, been told
that, that it had been
the, the crime family that was
you know, that Kitty was from.
Steven, between you and me
it's not true.
Everybody in my family
says to me you know
"You' re crazy, you shouldn't go
there. You may not come back"
I said, "I'm not,
I'm not afraid to die."
I said, "If it's my time
to die, I'm ready to go."
So you're not only
cordial for coming here
but you're courageous
for coming here.
Yeah, uh...
I know that, uh.. some point
in a person's life
they have to move on,
you know, and, and
then you'll have some peace
of mind about it, you know?
And, you know,
hopefully, you know
we can put everything that's
happened behind us and move on.
About a month after
talking with Steven Moseley
his father Winston
sent a letter.
He described in detail
a bizarre version
of what happened the night
of Kitty's murder.
According to him,
he was nothing more than the getaway driver
for the true killer.
An Italian mobster
named Dominic.
"At that point,
Dominic ran at the woman and I thought
"I was seeing him hitting her
"in her back with his fist.
I didn't know he had a knife.
\x22Why? " I asked.
\x22She owed me" was all he said.
"He said to me
in a very menacing way quote
\x22Not a word about tonight
to anyone.
\x22If you ever mention my name
\x22if you talk, you'll be sorry.
Your family will pay.\x22
And then it's
simply signed Winston Moseley.
- It's so delusional.
- Yeah.
It's kind of like, uh,
the human condition.
One believes their own bullshit
in evolving stories.
Amazing. 50 years
and he's come up with this.
It's hard to let go when you
can never know the whole truth.
I'll never be able
to put myself
in the place of the neighbors.
Welcome to our home.
This is the bedroom.
- Hello.
- Hi.
The one in the bedroom
looks directly down
at the parking lot.
And I can never really know
what it was like
for Kitty that night.
What thoughts
went through her mind.
Only once in 50 years
have I come close
to understanding.
It was July, 1967.
I was on patrol
near an enemy village.
Lying in the middle of that
paddy, I was completely alone.
I thought of Kitty.
What was it like for her
when she realized
no one was going to save her?
But Marines
carried me to safety
and I lived
to tell the story.
Whatever possessed you to go running
off into the paddy like that?
- I'm a marine.
- How do you mean?
I'm a marine.
I'll take care of 'em.
After 50 years,
I felt there was one more thing I had to do.
- Hi, how are you?
- Good. How are you?
- I'm Shannon.
- Pleased to meet you, Shannon.
- Nice to meet you.
- Beeby?
- Hello.
- Michael?
- Yes.
- It's Bill Genovese.
I'm here with a woman
named Shannon Beeby
and she is going
to act out the
vocalizations here
on the street.
So of course the only person
we really have.. yourself,
who can give us a... an idea
of how loud was it
in your apartment.
The scream was so loud
that it woke me up
from a dead sleep.
I've never heard anything
in my life that loud.
Help me!
Help me!
Oh, my God, please help me.
Please, help me!
Help me!
Help me!
Oh, God..
Thank you.
Bill, how you doing?
How's everything?
- Good.
- Good to see you.
This is unbelievable.
I know.
She was my friend
and I knew she was hurt.
She was my friend
and I knew she was hurt.
And I..
And she needed help.
That was... that was my reason
for flying down those stairs.
And then when I came in
I'll never forget the black..
It kills me
when I think about it.
It kills me
when I think about it.
The black leather gloves
and all cuts
all through the gloves
on her both hands.
I only hope
that she knew it was me.
That she wasn't alone.
This is the youngest, Frank
This is the youngest, Frank
and this is the oldest, Vin.
So it was Kitty, Vin, Susan
Bill and then Frank.
This is our granddaughter.
- Oh, she's beautiful.
I've come to realize
that the whole truth
about Kitty's death
will never be known.
But maybe that's why the story
continues to fascinate people.
But maybe that's why the story
continues to fascinate people.
You really only
had to know one thing
to appreciate how
misleading that lead was.
And if nothing else,
it got us
to think about
what we owe each other.
To not only be vigilant
but to get involved
and to help in
any capacity that we can.
50 years after Kitty's death,
I still miss her.
I wish she had the chance to
know her nieces and nephews.
I wish she had the chance to
know her nieces and nephews.
To meet her grand-niece
who's named after her.
But this journey
has taught me and my family
more about Kitty than
we ever thought we'd know.
For some reason or other,
she really took
a- a liking to Billy,
more than me.
Although I remember,
one time
I didn't eat
my spaghetti and she
dumped the spaghetti
on my head.
- Yes! Really?
- Yeah.
Kitty taught me to never
stop asking questions.
Kitty taught me to never
stop asking questions.
But I know
she'd want me to move on.
God is in the roses
The petals and the thorns
Storms out on the oceans
Storms out on the oceans
The souls who will be born
And every drop
of rain that falls
Falls for those who mourn
God is in the roses
And the thorns
The sun is on the cemetery
The sun is on the cemetery
Leaves are on the stones
There never
was a place on Earth
That felt so much like home
We're falling like
the velvet petals
We're bleeding
and we're torn
But God is in the roses
And the thorns