Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

A Killing in Central Park: The Preppy Murder Case

Dorrian's Red Hand

Dorrian's Red Hand Bar (Michael A. Smith/ Timepix)
Dorrian's Red Hand Bar (Michael A. Smith/
The Upper East Side of Manhattan, along 1st, 2nd and 3rd Avenues are lined with bars, restaurants and clubs where young people gather to drink, party and meet each other. They crowd into these bars almost every night of the week, where underage drinking, drugs and sex are part of the scene, especially during the 1980s when the minimum drinking age was still just 18 years old. A certain image developed during that time, which portrayed these young people as affluent, spoiled and self-indulgent. They went to private schools and vacationed in the Hamptons. They drove their fathers BMWs and coveted MBAs and law degrees. They wore designer clothes and knew all the right colleges. They hung around the East Side bars spending money they didnt earn and drinking booze they couldnt legally buy.

One of these bars was Dorrians Red Hand at the corner of E. 84th Street and 2nd Avenue, which became a favorite of Jennifer Levin and her friends. During 1986, her group visited Dorrians several times each week and they frequently met there both before and after they went out on dates or to the movies. The place was always crowded and they were sure to bump into someone they knew because everyone knew everyone else at Dorrians. The owner, Jack Dorrian, was a familiar sight to the preppie crowd. He was sort of a friend and a father figure to lots of the kids, according to Jennifers friends. The place was like their own private club. When parents called looking for their kids, they were relieved to find that they were at Dorrians rather than some strange place somewhere else in the city.

During late August 1986, the bar was packed with high school graduates who were having a last summer fling, saying good-bye to each other before going away to college. They drank Summer Breezes and Rum and Cokes, which they bought with phony IDs, and made elaborate plans to meet again. It was here, at Dorrians Red Hand -- where romances began and ended, where the partying seemed to go on forever and the illusion of youth stretched out before them like an endless carpet -- Jennifer Levin first laid eyes on Robert Chambers.  


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