Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer (2021) s01e01 Episode Script

Murder on 42nd St.

1 [ambient music playing.]
[news anchor.]
At night, the brightest reflection in the skies over New York comes from the area around Times Square and Broadway.
[news anchor 2.]
Thousands of pleasure-seekers, like moths, are lured to its light.
[news anchor 3.]
These sights and sounds are only a part of one of the most astonishing and complicated areas in the world.
[upbeat music playing.]
The whole world is attracted to Times Square.
They're entranced and a little bit drunk off all the lights and all of the show business.
But tourists don't know what was there 45 years ago.
In the late '70s, Times Square was considered an atrocity.
Times Square was a very sexually-charged atmosphere.
The whole scene was something to see because it was, like, out of Dante's Inferno.
[sirens wailing.]
There were guys walking around out there that were pure predators.
The fear behind that was palpable.
You could feel it.
It's not easy to find a newscast with no reference to violence and murder these days, but this week got off to an unusually violent start right here in Midtown Manhattan.
I was in the 10th Precinct in Manhattan covering Times Square, just, uh, a uniform cop on patrol.
This was December of '79, and we're stopped at a light at 42nd Street when we saw fire trucks parked in front of the Travel Inn hotel.
[tense music playing.]
[indistinct chattering.]
When we pulled up, they excitedly said, "You better go up to the fourth floor.
" [sirens wailing.]
There was a fire in room 417.
Rescue Company 1 was told that there were likely guests inside the room.
So you had the smell from burning flesh, and the smoke was thick.
They crawled into the room, not being able to see.
[fire crackling.]
They made out the shape of bodies on the twin beds.
[muffled chattering.]
One of the firemen went to give CPR but she had no head or hands.
Knocked him back against the wall, naturally.
The sergeant turned to me, and he said, "A real sick bastard did this.
" [tense music playing.]
[sinister music playing.]
[fire truck sirens wailing.]
[fire truck horn blaring.]
[news anchor.]
Firemen were first to arrive at the scene at about 9:30 this morning.
They were responding to a report of a fire in a West Side hotel room.
They found much more than they had anticipated.
Two women were found decapitated, their hands cut off as well.
[female reporter.]
Did it seem that the women had been killed recently when you arrived? I would say so, yeah, within a couple hours.
[female reporter.]
It seems the suspect tried to cover his tracks by setting the two beds on fire.
Two separate fires, two separate mattresses, two separate beds.
For how long? Five minutes, tops.
[knocking on door.]
I spent 31 and a half years with the New York City Police Department.
You wouldn't believe the things I've seen.
And for something to stand out, it's gotta be really bad.
It has to be absolutely horrifying to stand out.
And this case did stand out.
It was pretty much the hotel room from hell.
[man 2.]
I saw the headlines before I got the information from the NYPD, and the case immediately intrigued me.
I'm a homicide and forensic expert and consultant.
I'm the former commander of Bronx Homicide.
At the time, I called up Jerry McQueen, who was the detective sergeant who was in charge of the investigation, and he basically filled me in what they had.
[indistinct radio police chatter.]
The immediate problem for the investigators was "Who are these victims?" [projector whirring.]
The first thing you look for is fingerprints, but in this case, you were deprived of fingerprints 'cause there's no hands.
Our first inclination is that he wants to prevent identification.
That's why the heads and hands are gone.
We had nothing else.
No wallet, no ID, no identification cards.
And don't forget, it's it's 1979.
We don't have all this video surveillance that we have today, okay? We don't have DNA technology.
It won't DNA technology won't come up for another seven years.
Very frustrating.
[ominous music playing.]
The firemen said that they felt it was a poorly conceived fire, more likely to draw attention to the room than it was to do any damage.
In fact, one detective said to me it was the cleanest crime scene he's ever seen.
It was totally devoid of evidence.
Spatter, gore, puddles, fingerprints, there was nothing.
How how can you behead two women, chop off the the hands of two women, and not have gore from one end to the other? [Riegel.]
I did see the clothing from the victims was piled neatly in the bathtub.
You know, it seemed strange to me at the time.
[female reporter.]
This killer went to great lengths to destroy the women's identities.
So why would he leave behind the women's clothing? Possibly they were his gimmicks, planted there, like the little fire he started Sunday.
One of the maids from the fourth floor, uh, discovered smoke coming from under the door and, uh, trying to open the door to, uh, get in there.
[female reporter.]
Had anybody heard any kind of a struggle? Any noise in that room? It was don't disturb.
Don't disturb.
That's all.
The don't disturb sign, was that up all along? Yes.
[bell ringing.]
The offender came in on November 29th into that hotel, and he did not leave till December 2nd.
A period of three days.
He very cleverly signed in as a Carl Wilson from Maryland, New Jersey, which was a fake name.
The only time he was seen was at registration.
[suspenseful music playing.]
A woman stood behind him as the subject was registering.
He was alone.
She was alone.
But for whatever reason, she paid attention and they drew a composite from her description.
[female reporter.]
This is the sketch of the man wanted for questioning.
He's white, 35 years old, about 5'10" tall, and weighing 175 pounds.
They say he has brown hair, which is blow-dried.
By that, they told me they mean this man is very meticulous about his appearance.
In a case like this, the police have an uphill battle because of the location down in Times Square.
Back then, it was rampant crime of every description going on on every block, on every corner, in every alleyway.
[sirens wailing.]
This was a place where someone could go unnoticed.
When you're looking for a killer in 1970s Times Square, you're looking for a needle in a haystack.
[horns honking.]
There was more of a crowd in Times Square than anywhere else in the city.
There were tourists, countless businessmen Yes, sir, what can I do for you, buddy? What do you need today? hustlers and three-card monte guys.
Guys right out of Rikers Island.
[horn blaring.]
When you have the entire world passing through, anybody could be in there.
It's a hustle and bustle that's unparalleled anywhere else in this country.
I spent my entire twenties in the 1970s and '80s in Times Square.
I was a writer covering the neighborhood for men's magazines.
There's probably no "official" official designation of exactly to the foot which makes up Times Square [upbeat music playing.]
but because it's in my blood, and I've spent so many years there between 42nd Street and 50th Street, between 8th Avenue and 6th Avenue.
Those 13 blocks, that's my definition of Times Square.
[man 2.]
"The Deuce" was a nickname at the time.
It really referred to 42nd Street itself, particularly between 7th and 8th Avenue, which is really the heart of Times Square.
At its peak, it was a meeting place.
It was a place of entertainment.
It was part of the central business district.
Almost all subway lines come to Times Square.
The Port Authority Bus Terminal brings people from New Jersey but also people from around the country.
[man 3.]
For me, it's always been a destination.
I remember coming here and seeing the Camel ad where the guy blows smoke rings.
That was so cool.
I mean, anything else paled in comparison to that.
There were Broadway shows, and theaters were bustling, and it was like an element of being in the Wild West.
You know, where you didn't know what was gonna happen, and you were going there because you wanted to have an adventure.
Times Square 42nd Street was a collecting point for all sorts of people.
It was like a like a drain, you know? Everything came there.
[tense music playing.]
You have those who are the denizens of the Deuce, who have lived there, they worked there, they partied there.
But you have all these newcomers who did not learn to be street-smart.
And if you are not used to being in a place where there are so many people bumping up against you, so many lights, loud music, everything else, it's easy to become a victim because there were bad people out there.
[sirens wailing.]
[news anchor.]
For the past two weeks, we've told you about the hunt for whoever murdered and decapitated two women in the Times Square hotel.
Authorities are asking anyone with information about this man to call a special number.
The media put out a composite sketch of a potential suspect, but at the time, that sketch didn't help the investigation.
Because nobody came forward.
Very frustrating.
[female reporter.]
Police have had to resort to the barest of evidence as a means of tracking down the victims' identities.
Over at the 20th Precinct, we saw the sorry remains of the two young women.
A pair of Bonjour jeans size 7/8, a pair of patent leather boots, a red sweater, a black fur jacket waist-length, a pair of white leotards, and a pair of black high-heeled shoes.
[phone ringing in distance.]
Now, in order to try to identify the victims, the investigators came up with the idea of why don't we take these clothes that had been left behind in the hotel room and see if we get some feedback from the general public? One of the detectives said, "Listen, in Midtown, we have all these department stores.
" "Why don't we get mannequins from the department store and dress the mannequin in the clothing to see if anyone could identify these gals based on the clothing?" [female reporter.]
Police tell us they'll call a press conference tomorrow.
The purpose is to dress up some mannequins with the same clothes they showed us last week.
[tense music playing.]
[shutter clicking.]
So the mannequins were dressed, photographed, and circulars went up all over the place.
They were in the newspaper.
They were on television.
They were at 42nd Street.
They were on light poles.
Wherever you could stick a poster with that, they were there.
If you recognize the victim's clothing, or if you have any information that might help the police, the number to call is 477-74 [voice distorts.]
[typewriter clacking.]
[indistinct chattering.]
In 1979, I was a crime reporter.
[suspenseful music playing.]
I had covered crime, but I had never covered crime as salacious and as evil and as, uh brutal, really.
I got to know the detectives on this case and took a lot of interest in what they were doing.
[phone ringing.]
And finally, they were given a tip about one of the victims.
[phone ringing.]
A woman named Rose called the police and said, "I recognize the outfit that you have put on the television in regards to this woman.
" "These were my friend's clothes.
" She said it was the outfit and shoes her friend left the house in.
Although police apparently aren't close to making any arrests, they had a major break today when they managed to identify one of the victims.
Police called on the public for assistance and received numerous phone calls.
One of these calls was part of the process which led to identification.
Medical records were checked, and identification came from distinguishing characteristics of certain bones and scars on the body.
If you feel the back of your neck, uh, there are bony prominences that can be noted, and those had a very characteristic, uh, shape.
It's on that basis that the identification was made.
[dramatic music builds up, ends.]
One of the victims from the Travel Inn was identified as Deedeh Goodarzi, who was my birth mother.
[tense music playing.]
I was adopted at ten weeks.
When I was a child, being adopted was difficult for me to understand.
I was an unknown.
I don't know where I came from.
I wanted to find my biological mother.
When I turned 26, I found the orphanage that I came from.
And they said, "We would love it if you came to see us.
" "We have a file for you to look through.
" I was expecting a Lifetime movie where I would get to meet, possibly, the woman who gave birth to me.
But they gave me these terrible newspaper articles about how she was killed.
There was a gorgeous picture of my mother.
[chokes up.]
So half of me is so excited to see my mother's face, and then feeling angry [inhales deeply.]
because her life was taken in such a horrific manner.
It's just, uh, inconceivable.
Deedeh's life started in Iran.
[somber music playing.]
She came to America when she was around eight or nine, and she went to Holy Family School in Brooklyn, but she never finished high school.
She had run away a couple times.
When she became a young adult, she moved to Trenton, New Jersey, and I came to find out that she would take the train on the weekends to New York City [inhales deeply.]
and she was a sex worker there.
Deedeh was considered a high-priced escort.
She was working in bars, working at massage parlors.
She was the type of sex worker that only had a couple clients in one day.
The last time anyone but her killer saw her alive was when she was in Trenton getting on a train for New York just two days before she was found murdered.
[female reporter.]
Police are still looking for information about the other victim.
Is it your impression that these two women might have worked together? I feel that she did, uh, meet with the unidentified girl here in the New York City area.
It's still a mystery how Deedeh Goodarzi ended up in that room with the other girl.
The other girl we know nothing about.
Not a thing.
She remained a Jane Doe.
But based on Deedeh being a prostitute, these detectives thought the other victim was likely a prostitute as well.
[projector whirring.]
The area of Times Square near the Travel Inn had become known for sex workers who worked the streets, who worked the hotels, who worked the bars.
Times Square was thick with prostitution.
I mean, there were upwards of 1,200 prostitutes a night.
There were women and men working.
There might be trans women on one block.
There might be gay hustlers on another.
In the late 1970s, the operative term for being a sex worker was "prostitute.
" The problem with using the word "prostitute" is it is so combined with the notion of sexual shame.
She's nothing but a slut.
She's a prostitute.
She's a whore.
All of those terms would later be challenged, and they coined the term "sex worker.
" [tense music playing.]
In the 1970s, Times Square became a sort of epicenter for the sex trade.
It was a sex carnival.
Times Square offered what you couldn't find anywhere else.
One silver dollar, we'll make you cum, cum, cum.
It was a place where you could fulfill forbidden fantasies in all sorts of different ways.
There were the book stores, the peep shows, burlesque clubs, and the sex emporiums, with barkers whose main cry was, "Wall-to-wall pussy.
" [chuckles.]
That was one of the favorite cries.
Work my body, baby.
Ah, yeah.
There was the illusion that, yes, anything goes, because that is what brings people in.
People in this country want to see sex.
You know, it's like a Chinese proverb that says, you know, "That which is the least obtainable is the most desired.
" "That which is the most obtainable is the least desired.
" [interviewer.]
Nothing as sweet as a stolen cookie.
Yeah, basically.
That's about the size of it.
42nd Street got to be what it was because of my father, Martin Hodas, the porno king of New York City.
He was in the right place at the right time and saying, "Oh my God, do I got a good idea.
" [upbeat music playing.]
In the beginning, before XXX Times Square emerged, there were dirty bookstores where you could get girly magazines, as they were called at the time.
Very tame stuff by today's standard.
But then in 1967, Marty Hodas invented the peep show in Times Square.
The first peep shows that my father had, they were the peep machines, and you'd put a quarter in, and you'd be watching porno films.
White-collar workers could sneak off there on their lunch break and take in something X-rated.
It had a certain appeal to certain people because of the feeling of they're doing something naughty.
They're doing something dirty, you know? They're doing something they're not supposed to be doing.
That was the appeal.
[rock music playing.]
But then people wanted more, and my dad loved pushing the envelope.
Any man has the right to view whatever he feels like viewing, which is a wonderful thing.
So my father expanded and expanded and expanded.
He started to make his own films and they were hard-core films.
I started making films for him.
I tried to make, you know, little stories and all this stuff.
Didn't matter.
The viewers, they were in it for the sex.
And once Marty opened the floodgates, porn had gone from being this underground thing to very overtly overground.
X-rated theaters started popping up all over the place.
Then he started doing the live peep shows.
Come on, check it out.
It's all live.
And it's all happening right here at Show World Center.
You'd go into a booth, and you'd put a quarter in, and the slot went up, where you'd watch five girls, about, dancing, stripping, whatnot.
The idea was to keep teasing the patron so that the patron would keep popping those tokens into the machine.
At that time, I was a porn star and a writer for Penthouse.
I covered the sex scene in Times Square, and I would interview all of the people who worked there.
Everybody was, you know, open about being horny.
It was a place where you could lose yourself.
With every year, it would get more transgressive, more radicalized, more sexualized.
And then they took the glass out of the peep shows so you could interact with with the model.
Men could put their hands through that hole, and he could touch the girls.
Or he could put his body part in there, and the girls could give them hand jobs and blow jobs.
Everybody was really fascinated with sex and the availability of sex.
People pushed the limits.
The barriers were down, anything went.
And so these businesses, which seemed to be about pleasure on one side, definitely have a much darker side.
There was something more than sleazy.
There was something like like a little dangerous.
A lot of bad things just came along with the business.
[sirens wailing.]
There were pimps and drugs all over the place, and the mob was really big back then, Five Families.
Gambino family ran pornography, but secretly behind the scenes, all the property and and the financing of just about every porn place, uh, they were mob-owned, and they were mob-run.
The porn industry breeded bad people coming in, and I think it caused more crime.
Yes, I do.
It brought it like a magnet.
I think some men saw women as people who could be purchased, and once they said, "Oh, I'll do anything," those men took that to the limit.
[sinister music playing.]
There were predators.
People who came just to prey on the sex workers.
To be rough with them, to physically abuse them.
These people are scary.
They think that since no one can see what they're doing, that no one's gonna care.
And the sex workers are the ones that take the wrath.
[sirens wailing.]
I think [inhales.]
that whole world was the reason why my mother lost her life, is because it was complete mayhem.
[police radio chatter.]
[radio static.]
[police radio chatter.]
Once they identified Deedeh Goodarzi, that was the biggest break they had.
Then the police very much shook the bushes on trying to find a motive for Deedeh's murder and a perpetrator.
You're looking at the people who are in her world, in her circle of existence.
Johns, pimps, drug dealers.
That's who you're looking at and expanding your way outward.
Deedeh had a pimp, a guy called James Thomas.
She worked for him for years.
She also worked out of some of the mob-owned bars.
She was familiar with a number of Iranian drug dealers that they had interviewed.
But after investigating all these possible perpetrators it came to nothing.
Nothing, nothing, nothing.
[crowd cheering.]
[male reporter.]
Goodbye to the '70s.
A decade of dreams.
A decade of nightmares.
A decade to which they said farewell here last night.
[cheering continues.]
[tense music playing.]
I had just come back from Quantico, and I basically came in on the ground floor of criminal profiling, which was new at the time.
Profiling, basically, is an understanding of the dynamics and behaviors of offenders and crime scenes.
We look at victimology, we look at signature, autopsy results, and we look at MO.
[shutter clicking.]
[switch clicking.]
In this case, the medical examiner was able to determine that the heads and hands had been removed after death, both of them.
Oftentimes you'll find someone who's not very experienced at cutting leaving something called hesitation marks.
You'll see a slice and then maybe a deeper slice.
They're trying to get a feel for how difficult it is.
But the killer did not seem squeamish at all.
He cut right in and kept on cutting.
This tells us that this individual felt very confident about what he was doing.
[female reporter.]
The one thing we've got is plenty of questions.
We asked one of the medical examiners who conducted the autopsies.
Was there any indication that this killer may have inflicted sadistic injuries before he killed them? Yes, there there were linear abrasions, scratches all over the body.
No obvious signs of struggle, and, uh, which appears strange.
But there were There are a lot of scratch marks on the body.
There were puncture marks, incise marks.
One victim had been bound face down, and he had taken the blade and gone up and down her back, elongated incised type wounds, and the other victim has similar wounds.
They were torture marks.
They were designed to cause pain, repeated pain.
Can you imagine your whole body being cut? And and that's that's what he was doing over a period of three days.
They had also been sexually assaulted.
Deedeh Goodarzi was stabbed through the back into the lung.
The ME declares cause of death as the stab wound.
What they determined in time was these women died at different times.
So one endured witnessing what had happened to the other.
[sinister music playing.]
I had awful visions of what could have happened in that room.
Because the fire, because the mutilation, the decapitation.
All of it was It was just awful.
[sinister music playing.]
The behavior cried out that we're dealing with a psychopathic sexual sadist.
These people have a tendency to want to hurt and cause pain in order to get sexually satisfied.
They're basically trying to fulfill a fantasy.
Usually, it goes back to their early childhood.
At first, they use pornography to implement the fantasy.
And like any other stimulant, what happens, it becomes addictive, and they want more of it.
Ultimately, in the mind of the psychopathic sexual sadist, at a certain point, you'll see these guys they wanna actually get a real victim, but the victim is just a prop to fulfill the fantasy.
So there's no empathy.
All right, there's no remorse.
There's no feeling.
There's no connection that there's another human being there.
There is this struggle to transform one's fantasy into reality and do it in a way that's as perfect as the fantasy.
And it never is.
You ever hear of the psychology of evil? That's what we're talking about here.
The psychology of evil.
But if you're a true psychopathic sexual sadist, you can fool people.
They can present as "normal" to their neighbors, relatives, and co-workers because they've been able to compartmentalize that evil.
[sinister music playing.]
[computer tape reels clacking.]
[phone ringing.]
Back then, I was working on 3rd Avenue not far from the bright lights of Times Square.
I worked at Blue Cross Blue Shield on a Honeywell H8200 computer.
H8200 is about the size of one floor of an office building.
- [projector whirring.]
- I sat there with a bunch of engineers.
They loved to brag about adventures like most guys do at work.
[phone ringing.]
There was one guy, most of the people called him Richie.
His last name was Cottingham, so instead of saying that long word, I used to call him "the Cott.
" He talked a lot about prowling the streets of Times Square, picking up prostitutes.
He had endless energy when it came to that.
[horns honking.]
I can't tell you what I had for breakfast yesterday, but I could remember everything about this man.
Times Square was attractive to Richie because all these extracurricular activities was all in one place.
His shift was from 4:00 p.
to 11:00 p.
It was a skeleton crew, so no one cared about what we did on our shift.
If you wanted to take a hike, kill a couple hours in all these massage parlors, or the film pornography, live pornography peep show places, he could get away with it.
[tense music playing.]
He would give you a detailed map if you wanted to know where the girls were.
He was like a a tour guide for hookers.
The thing that'd draw the women to him was C-A-S-H.
Cash, lots of cash.
Richard, at any time, would have two or three thousand dollars in each pocket.
And he waved it around.
He made sure you you saw it.
He bought what he wanted.
He said, "If I pay a girl, she's gonna do anything I tell her to do.
" Richie talked a lot about Plato's Retreat, the swing club right off Times Square.
So as a photographer, as a journalist, there were places that I would go to on my own just because I was very curious.
I was there with a camera.
I I got a lot of great photos.
Plato's Retreat was a place that, uh, couples could go and swap partners with other couples, or even engage in, uh, group sex in what they called the orgy room.
There were cubicles which were private.
You know, lock the door.
You don't know what people are doing in there.
Plato's Retreat is more than just a club.
It's an institution.
It's a monument to sexual freedom.
It was just, uh a sewer of, uh sexuality.
Richard would talk about how easy women were to get into bed.
Everyone there was fascinated with, uh, with sex.
There was an open almost exchange of, uh, sex acts and, uh, behavior.
Plato's attracted a crowd, a lot of women and a lot of sex workers.
This includes, uh, incidentally Deedeh Goodarzi, one of the victims at the Travel Inn.
[dramatic music playing.]
[fire truck horn blaring.]
[sirens wailing.]
Now it's May 15th in New York City, and the firefighters are once again called to a hotel, the Hotel Seville.
It was right off Madison Avenue and 29th Street, which is east of Times Square.
The police were called, detectives responded, Manhattan South Homicide responded.
[projector whirring.]
There was a room set on fire.
And when they went inside there's another mutilated woman.
[dramatic music playing.]
She was found beaten tortured, naked, sexually assaulted strangled to death.
[projector whirring.]
Once again, it looked like a psychopathic sexual sadist.
But in this case, the heads and hands were not taken.
But instead, he removed both her breasts and placed them on the headboard for shock value.
[shutter clicking.]
Once again, looking at the crime scene, it was very neat.
There was no evidence.
But this time, the hands, they were left behind so they could be used for fingerprints.
She was identified as Jean Ann Reyner.
She had been arrested for prostitution, ironically just a couple of weeks before.
Jean Reyner was a young mother.
She was a daughter.
She was a sister.
She was killed horrifically, leaving behind a small boy.
She was working as a sex worker essentially to finance a custody suit she had to retain custody of her son.
That's about all we know about her.
When you compare the presentation of the crime scene to the Travel Inn, and the type of injuries to the body, you'd have no doubt they were inflicted by the same person.
Also, the fact that you're looking at another prostitute getting killed.
As a profiler, that says one thing.
I got a serial killer.
That's it.
The Hotel Seville was not that far from work.
We called it "slaughter at the Seville.
" And that's exactly what it was.
One morning, Richard and I were sitting at the console, and Cottingham was in his chair rocking away, and one of our peripheral operators came in, Bob, with the newspaper in his hand, and it was on the front page.
And Bob threw it down on the console and said, "What sick son of a bitch could do something like this?" Cottingham's rocking back and forth in his chair, and he looked up at Bob, and he said, "Bob, could've been you, could've been me.
" [sinister music playing.]

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