“I heard a girl saying, ‘Help me, help me,’” Robert Mozer testified. “It wasn’t a scream, more of a cry. I got up and looked out, and across the street a girl was kneeling down, and this fellow was bending over her. I hollered: ‘Hey, get out of there! What are you doing?’ He jumped up and ran like a scared rabbit. She got up and walked out of sight, around a corner.”The year was 1964. Winston Moseley died last week at the age of 81 — in prison. We were talking about him here last November, when he — as the longest-serving inmate in New York — was denied parole for the 18th time. The parole board regarded his statement — "I know that I did some terrible things, and I've tried very hard to atone for those things in prison... I think almost 50 years of paying for those crimes is enough" — as "still minimiz[ing] the gravity" of what he had done and "not exhibit[ing] much insight."
In his confession, [Winston] Moseley said, “I had a feeling this man would close his window and go back to sleep, and sure enough he did.” In court, he said, “I realized the car was parked where people could see it, and me, so I moved it some distance away.” Mr. Moseley also said he had changed from a stocking cap to a wide-brim hat to cover his face, then walked back to the scene.
“I came back because I’d not finished what I set out to do,” he testified.
He found Ms. Genovese lying in a hallway at the rear of the building. She was “twisting and turning” on the floor, bleeding and still crying for help, he recalled. He resumed his attack, “and I don’t know how many times or where I stabbed her till she was fairly quiet.” Investigators said he stabbed her a dozen times, stifling her last cries and raping her before escaping.
The case became symbolic of the "bystander effect" (or "the Kitty Genovese syndrome"). The descriptions of people hearing and doing nothing were exaggerated. In truth, none of the neighbors "saw the attack in its entirety": "Only a few had glimpsed parts of it, or recognized the cries for help. Many thought they had heard lovers or drunks quarreling."