Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Career Girls Murders

The Beginning

The trial for the Borrero mugging began on November 9, 1964 in Brooklyn Criminal Court. Whitmore was charged with attempted rape and assault. Although the Wylie-Hoffert killings could not be brought up during the proceeding, everyone knew that Whitmore was already charged with their murders, a fact that was sure to influence the thinking of some of the jurors.

Mrs. Borrero, a nurse at a Long Island hospital, took the stand and told the jury that she was coming home after working a three to 12 shift on the night of the attack. She stated that she exited the subway station a few blocks from her home and began to work through the quiet Brooklyn streets. As she approached within sight of her building, she said, a man grabbed her from behind wrapping his arm around her neck and told her "Don't scream or I'll kill you!" She resisted and fought against the bigger man. As the fight continued, she got a good look at his face. "My head was turned so that I was looking at him... I saw his complete face," she told the court. A cop came upon the scene and the assailant took off into a darkened alleyway, she said. Mrs. Borrero positively identified George Whitmore Jr. as the person who attacked her.

Police testified to Whitmore's arrest and identification at the seven-three. Numerous investigators, including Det. Joseph DiPrima, testified to the circumstances surrounding Whitmore's confession.

Whitmore took the stand during the trial and said that his admissions were not true and that he only confessed because he was afraid of the detectives. "They called me a liar," he said, "I told them if I said I did it, I would be lying, so every time I said I didn't know what happened, I got knocked into the chair." He said that detectives beat him up until he finally confessed. "I continuously got beat until I couldn't take it no more," he said, "so I just broke down and shook my head." The jury didn't accept Whitmore's explanation for his admissions. After nine hours of deliberations, the verdict was in. He was found guilty on all counts.

But Manhattan detectives were not satisfied with certain aspects of the Whitmore confession. Investigators could not understand how Whitmore got onto the service elevator without being noticed in a building that had a doorman. The victims had suffered catastrophic injuries and, according to Whitmore's confession, never got any blood on his clothes. He also told Det. Bulger that he didn't know the girls were dead when he left the apartment. Even allowing for Whitmore's limited intelligence, that seemed impossible, given the extent of their wounds.

Ludie Montgomery, the 15-year-old girl who had watched part of Martin Luther King's speech on August 28, 1963, with Whitmore, had also come forward. She provided a strong alibi for George. How could he have been in Wildwood, New Jersey, watching King's speech when he was accused of killing the career girl's at about the same time? Wildwood is hours away from Manhattan by car.

The puzzling photograph that started the interrogation had also come under scrutiny. When Manhattan detectives first saw it, they immediately doubted it was an image of Janice Wylie as Det. Bulger theorized. After an exhaustive investigation that included interviews of former tenants of the 88th Street apartment who now lived in Ohio, Texas and Minnesota, police were unable to find the owner. But remembering that Whitmore had initially said he found the photo in New Jersey, detectives eventually located the person in the photograph. She was identified as a teen-age girl who had lived in Wildwood. She later explained that she threw the picture in the garbage in 1961. Whitmore was telling the truth.

If he was telling the truth about the photo, then part of the confession was a lie. If part of the confession was a lie, then maybe all of it was a lie. And if the confession wasn't true, how did Whitmore know all those details about the crime scene?

None of it made any sense.

 

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