Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Kitty Genovese Murder

Investigation

During the week after the murder, the 30 detectives who were assigned to the case sifted through the neighborhood of Kew Gardens and Forest Hills. They located a milkman who was able to furnish a description of a suspect. Others also had observed Catherine's killer in the area prior to the murder and were able to add to the description. But it wasn't until six days later, when a suspect was arrested stealing a television during a house burglary that cops had their man: Winston Moseley, 29.

Moseley had no criminal record. He was married, owned a home in Queens and had two kids. Slight of build, barely 5-foot-8, with thin features and a brooding appearance, Moseley was a machine operator who worked in Mt. Vernon in nearby Westchester County. His arrest report, dated March 19, 1964, lists his occupation as "Remington Rand tab operator." He did not seem to be the type of person who committed street muggings or murder. But Moseley quickly confessed to the Genovese killing and two others. He told cops he had killed Barbara Kralik, 15, on July 20 in Springfield Gardens, Queens, and shot Annie Mae Johnson, 24, of South Ozone Park, Queens, on February 29. Both were savage killings and may have involved sexual assault. Trouble was, another man named Alvin "The Monster" Mitchell, 18, a local gang member, was already in custody for the Kralik killing. He had allegedly also confessed to the teenager's murder. But Moseley was insistent. He had killed them all, he said.

In the murder of Annie Mae Johnson, Moseley insisted that he shot the victim several times. "I shot her in the stomach. I reloaded and shot her again in the stomach," he told cops. But the autopsy on Johnson had listed the cause of death as puncture wounds from a sharp object such as a screwdriver or a file. Based on Moseley's confession, the body was exhumed from a cemetery in Monck's Corner, South Carolina, and a second autopsy was performed. Using X-ray equipment borrowed from a South Carolina Medical College in Charleston, the coroner found six bullets inside Johnson's body. Four of these bullets were recovered. "The finding of these bullets adds a lot of credence to Winston Moseley's other statements," Queens District Attorney Frank O'Connor told the press.

In the murder of 15-year-old Barbara Kralik, there was blood evidence available, no test yet existed that could compare bodily fluids for conclusive DNA identification. Moseley, however, was able to supply details that conformed to the existing evidence. Cops were satisfied they had the right man. Even his own court-appointed attorney, Sydney G. Sparrow, believed Moseley. "I'm convinced Moseley did all three of these killings," he told reporters after he met with his client for three hours in the Kings County Psych Ward. "There are too many things he knew that only the killer could know," he added.

But there was more. Moseley confessed to other attacks during nighttime expeditions in which he would roam the streets searching for victims at random. He said he raped many women, frequently robbing them in the process. Moseley admitted to dozens of burglaries, including the one for which he was arrested when he was caught stealing a television. But it was the sexual assaults that had detectives interested. Particularly the failed attempts of rape which several women reported. Moseley, it seemed, preferred sex with the dead. Dr. Oscar Diamond, a psychiatrist from Manhattan State Hospital, performed a pretrial psychiatric examination of Moseley. "He told me he got no thrill with live women he raped," he told the court later.

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