Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Career Girls Murders

I Was Like a Ghost!

Although he was exonerated of the Wylie-Hoffert killings when another man was convicted of the crimes, a cloud of suspicion hovered over Whitmore for many years. There were still people who believed that he had committed those murders as well as the Minnie Edmonds slaying. Some investigators believed that Robles and Whitmore did the career girls killings together, though there was never any credible evidence to indicate this was true. To complicate matters even further, Richard Robles insisted on his innocence for over two decades. But during the 1980s, Robles went through a spiritual transformation. On November 5, 1986, at a parole hearing held at the Eastern Correctional Facility in New York, Robles admitted to the murders.

He told the parole commissioners that he originally went to the 88th Street apartment only to commit a burglary. "I got in through a window," he said, "Miss Wylie was in the apartment. She was in bed... I tied her up. I tied her hands up... she was nude... I wanted to have sex with her. I attempted to. She said "No! I stopped." Robles said at that moment Emily Hoffert came home.

"I grabbed her. I tied her up," he explained. Robles said that while he was tying the girls together, Emily Hoffert told him she would remember his face. "She started telling me that she was going to tell the police on me, "Robles said, "she would remember me, that I was going to jail." It was then he decided that he would leave no witnesses. "The thought entered my mind I have to kill... I killed... I was out of it. Totally out... I felt like throwing up and I almost ran out of the room... I noticed a mirror. I looked in that mirror. The blood had drained from my face. I was like a ghost. My eyes were like glassy." Robles said that he couldn't remember all the details because he was in a trancelike state. "I looked like a ghost. I felt like a ghost. I can't even describe the feelings," he said, "I think of that now... what I had just done. I was feeling, God knows what I was feeling. I don't know how to describe what I was feeling."

The statements were barely reported in the press, a curious omission since the Wylie-Hoffert case was headlined for years in virtually every New York City newspaper. But the reverberations of Whitmore's alleged "confession" on the night of April 24, 1964, are still felt today. His was the culmination of several high profile cases in which confessions were "suggested" to criminal suspects and later recanted. Police detectives, who may have been motivated by their sense of justice, resorted to highly questionable means to extract a confession from a suspect who was too weak to resist. Their colossal blunders in the career girls murder case almost put George Whitmore Jr. on death row for a crime he certainly did not commit. No formal charges were ever brought against Detectives Bulger and DiPrima who consistently denied any wrongdoing in the case. But exactly how Whitmore was able to supply a 61-page confession to a double murder he never committed was never explained.

As of September 2002, Richard Robles remains in custody at Attica state prison in upstate New York.


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