Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Career Girls Murders

The Career Girls

Patricia Tolles, 23, was the third roommate who lived at 57 E. 88th Street with Janice and Emily. She was a graduate of Smith College in Massachusetts where she had roomed with Emily Hoffert. Patricia was working at her job at Time-Life in the book division most of the day. In the early afternoon, she received a troubling phone call from Mrs. Wylie, Janice's mother, who told her that Newsweek magazine called her and asked where her daughter was since she did not show up for work. Patricia was concerned because Janice never said anything to her about not going in and as far as she knew, Janice was preparing for work when she left the apartment that morning.

Patricia hurried down 88th Street and arrived home at 6:40 p.m. As soon as she entered the five-room apartment, she knew there was something wrong. "I found the whole place in a mess," she said later, "the apartment was terribly upset and I couldn't find my roommate." The door leading to one of the bedrooms was wide open. Articles of bloody clothing were strewn about the room and Patricia noticed a knife lying on the bathroom sink. She searched no further and instead, called Max Wylie, Janice's father who lived only three blocks away on E. 85th Street. After she told him about the condition of the apartment, Patricia hung up and called the police. Then she went downstairs and waited in the lobby.

Alarmed at the phone call, Max arrived at the nine-story apartment building minutes later accompanied by his wife. Together, they entered the darkened apartment. While the two women waited in the living room, Max went into Emily's bedroom. "The second bed was saturated with blood," he later testified, "it was a mass of gore." At first he did not find either of the girls. But when he went to the foot of the bed near the window that faced the street, he discovered their bodies. "They were close together... Janice was nude, Emily was dressed... I didn't recognize the other girl, I had only met her once." He had to step in their blood to get closer. "Janice had been stabbed through the heart," he told the court, "The knife wounds around Emily's neck very noticeable. The curlers were still in Janice's hair. Emily had been frightfully cut. It was very gory."

Actually, the girls had been stabbed and cut at least 63 times. Since the damage was extensive, it was impossible to get an exact count. The room was drenched in blood. There were several broken knife blades near the bodies, including one that was broken in Emily's chest. The doctor who performed the autopsies later told the press that the girls had suffered "vicious mutilation" during the assault. Janice had been slashed seven times in the heart. She had multiple stab wounds in the neck, the abdomen and her stomach had been ripped open. Her intestines were lying on the floor next to her body. Two broken knife handles were placed on top of a radiator cover in the bedroom. A third knife was on top of the bathroom sink and apparently had been washed by the suspect.

Max, a prolific television writer and brother of novelist Philip Wylie, covered the bodies with a blanket and then backed out of the room. Although he was extremely traumatized by what he had found, Max Wylie was still mindful of not destroying any evidence. He returned to the living room where he told his wife what he had seen and then called the police.


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