Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Career Girls Murders

A Classic Whodunit

Telly Savalas as Kojak (AP)
Telly Savalas as
Kojak (AP)

There are few stories in the annals of true crime like that of the career girl murder case of 1963. On one level, it was a classical whodunit tale that had Manhattan detectives stumped for many months while public pressure to solve the killings built to a boiling point. The savage sex-murders of two girls on Manhattan's Upper East Side in 1963 instilled genuine fear into thousands of young women and shocked even the most hardened investigators. On another level, it exposed an ugly and secret side of police work, which forced the Supreme Court of the United States to address the constitutional issues at stake. The case served as the blueprint for a popular television show of the 1970s called Kojak, starring Telly Savalas. But the series, which ran for many years, never put the factual story on TV. Maybe it was too controversial or too bizarre or maybe the truth was just too much for some people. There are still many questions left unanswered in the murders of Janice Wylie and Emily Hoffert. But it was one man's incredible odyssey through the Kafka-like maze of New York City's courts that undermined the sacred concept of American justice and shattered the credibility of the nation's largest police force.


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