A Brother’s Quest to Find the Real Truth of What Happened to Kitty Genovese

Given human nature, in order to tolerate the intolerable, do we shape our version of life to fit reality, or do we change reality and call it the truth? That is the ultimate question we all face over and over throughout our lives.  

There are many reasons why we play this subconscious game.  We change the truth for ourselves to make it more palatable, to ease the pain.  We create a fictionalized version that the public will accept.  Whether it is a specific individual or society itself, when a drama is created, irrespective of the truth, it speaks to the fact that the person or the public has not developed sufficient resiliency. When we are not resilient, a drama is perpetuated, misinformation becomes the status quo and unearthing the truth for truth and justice’s sake is oh so hard!

Bill Genovese, brother of Kitty Genovese, a disabled Vietnam Veteran took on the quest to right the wrongs since the night of March 13, 1964.  He interviewed all witnesses and even corresponded with the evil perp in preparation for his innovative film, The Witness.  A “devil’s advocate style” 2016  NPR article conveys the ambivalence of it all,  appears to question Bill’s motives, reveals possible reasons for the lack of witnesses coming forward 50 years ago and concludes that the myths will never fade. 

Never mind the fake news of today, it seemed that in 1964, the New York Times rushed to judgment on its facts, the number of neighbors who ignored Kitty’s cries for help and the infamous L – Lesbian word, just made everything all the more shocking, as most women were still closeted. The Stonewall Inn demonstrations did not take place until five years later. 

In April 2016, the New York Times interviewed Kitty’s partner, Mary Ann Zielonko Her account of that night is filled with trepidation, regret, and pain. There was the joy of meeting someone you click with, residing in a safe artsy neighborhood with Holocaust survivors as neighbors. They worked together in a bar and played together. But, to this day, Mary Ann feels she might have saved Kitty, for while Mary Ann returned from bowling and slept, Kitty was being murdered as the evil man returned a second time to stab her yet again!

Another interesting fact was that with the heinousness of Kitty’s murder, came innovation, specifically the introduction of the 911 Emergency System.  According to Biography.com, Kitty’s murder was the impetus for a much-improved way of reporting to the police of emergencies. In 1968 the 911 system was adopted throughout the country. Prior to that time, concerned citizens had to dial “O” for operator or the local police station number which was then relayed to a communications bureau and then passed on to the precinct! What an arduous process, in which many lives hung in the balance. President Lyndon Johnson and AT &T was instrumental in creating this single point of contact for emergencies.  There is no doubt that the implementation of this system has saved countless lives!

Bill Genovese is not a crackpot.  He is a man with a mission who says he’ll know when it’s over. It matters not that Winston Moseley described as a psychopathic serial killer and necrophiliac, was the man who stalked, raped and killed Kitty died in prison in Dannemora, in March 2016 at age 81. He even earned a college degree on taxpayers’ dime! You can read more at my previous blog: https://donnagore.com/2011/06/05/it’s-all-about-social-responsibility-the-case-of-kitty-genovese/

The groundbreaking film,The Witness,” was initially released as a world premiere at the New York Film Festival in October 2015. The trailer is engrossing, chilling!  It is available on several social media platforms.

Watch it as a shameful part of history. Watch it for justice’s sake. Watch it as a legacy to Kitty who was struck down so young and needlessly.. Watch it for Bill Genovese, a Vietnam Vet who lost his legs in the Vietnam War and lost even more in the life of his sister, Kitty. Perhaps his life has come full circle now. I truly hope so!

References-

http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/history-of-911-americas-emergency-service-before-and-after-kitty-genovese/

https://www.biography.com/people/kitty-genovese-120415

http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/history-of-911-americas-emergency-service-before-and-after-kitty-genovese/

http://www.thewitness-film.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-witness-review-searching-for-the-truth-about-kitty-genovese-1464883925

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/05/nyregion/winston-moseley-81-killer-of-kitty-genovese-dies-in-prison.html


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It Is Not the End When A Missing Person is Found; It’s Only One Chapter

 

“It’s been hard. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. It’s a struggle every day. But, we won’t stop until we have justice for him.”  

(George McLaurin Davis, Randy’s father)

 

When a person goes missing, events don’t occur in nice, neat stages. Just as Elisabeth Kubler Ross’s well-known five stages of grief, it is not a stair-step progression concerning the emotions of those who experience the loss of a missing person: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Loretta Davis, mother of Randy Davis has experienced all of these, before and after Randy went missing on January 21, 2016.  

Randy was described as a kindhearted man who would do anything for a person in need.  He was in a high school “Boot Camp” and earned his GED.  However, as often happens, young people don’t always make the best decisions concerning which friends to associate with, or who has their best interests at heart (besides their Mama). Along the way, he met Dakota Deal and had two children of his own named Bryson (now 6) and Addison (now 4).

But, the defining force that pulled him off the straight and narrow path of life was the introduction to drugs, escalating to the hardest substances from which it is nearly impossible to rid oneself.  It was a roller coaster ride of drug use, treatment, and relapse. As would be expected, Randy’s mother did everything possible to try to assist in keeping the demons at bay.  But no matter what was done, no matter how many resources or money one has at their disposal, sometimes the demons win no matter what, because of the cravings the motivation is so strong. Still, Randy always kept in contact with family.

On the positive side, we must stress that Randy had aspirations for a better life. He loved his children. He had a natural talent for art, particularly drawing. Randy wanted to go to art school. His family treasures many examples of his talents. Sadly, we can only speculate how his life might have unfolded, if given the right circumstances.

On May 10th, 2017 the Horry County Police, with the assistance of staff from the Cue Center for Missing Persons, located the remains of this  26-year-old young man, in a heavily wooded area on Horse Bay Road in Aynor, South Carolina.

The messages the Davis family wants to convey are many.  Loretta wants the world to know that her son’s life mattered, regardless of his struggles. The Davis’ are highly motivated to keep this young male’s case in the forefront such that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. And, they want the masses to know that the journey is only half completed. As I write this, I think of the courage and inner strength of a mother who needed the finality of viewing photos of her son at the police station.  It was a task no one should ever have to face. On that day,  after the viewing, she rode her bike to relieve the stress and pain, if only for a  short time.  

Loretta is now thinking of a fitting way to honor Randy’s memory, to build a legacy.  Will it be planting a tree, doing presentations to young people in her local schools, an art exhibit, an annual fundraiser, a video combining his art and strong messages regarding the importance of positive peer relationships and the evils of substance abuse? They will find their path as a family.

Thoughts and Thank You from Members of the Davis Family

“It’s been very hard having my brother missing for over a year and four months. Knowing that we had to bury my brother at age 26, created a huge impact upon my life.” (Randy’s youngest  sister, Ashley, age 19.)

Randy’s Aunt Janice always felt in her heart from the day Randy disappeared, that he had gone to pursue another Rehabilitation Program in order to get his life on track. She believed this until the day his remains were found. It was her hope, her solace, her self-protection. The reality was devastating.

“We praise Monica Caison and the entire Cue Center team for all of their hard work and dedication on behalf of our son, Randy. We also appreciate them taking the time away from their lives to search for Randy. We love y’all.

To Lt. Peter Cestare and Detective Dudley of the Crime Scene Investigations Unit, Horry County Police Department- South Carolina:

“We want to thank them for their long hours and days of constant work on our case. The progress we have achieved to date would not have been possible if they didn’t believe in us. We are forever grateful. There are no words to say how much your efforts mean to us.”

When Loretta’s daily strength weakens, she can ride her bike, looking to the heavens and say a prayer for her son, Randy, gone too soon!

 For any Information Concerning the Randy Davis Case-

Contact the Horry County Police Department at (843) 915-5350 or the CUE Center for Missing Persons at (910) 232-1687; (910) 343-1131 or the 24 hour tip line (910) 232-1687.

Profile of Randy Davis case at CUE Center for Missing Persons: http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/index.php?s=randy+Davis

References- http://www.amhc.org/58-grief-bereavement-issues/article/8444-stage-of-grief-models-kubler-ross

http://wpde.com/news/local/mayor-john-rhodes-myrtle-beach-is-not-a-city-of-violence

http://www.wnem.com/story/35443539/coroner-confirms-remains-found-were-those-of-aynor-man-missing-since-2016


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Blueberry Muffins and Such

Blueberry Muffins and Such

Blueberry Muffins and Such

The 1950’s, the decade in which I was born, seemingly was a lot simpler than 2017.

Crime, for the most part, was kept locked behind closed doors. Yes, there was Dragnet, Highway Patrol, and my favorite, Perry Mason on television. However, the real life drama portrayed daily was how to get rid of the waxy yellow buildup on the kitchen floor or finding the right recipe for tonight’s dinner.

This brings me to the topic of Home Economics, that all-important subject in school.  In 8th grade, we had “Gertrude Someone” as our teacher.  I recall having to make these ugly green drawstring gym bags with our initials emblazoned on the front.  I struggled with sewing then as I do now. I believe I was better at baking for some reason.  It seemed somewhat magical to watch our teacher prepare the best smelling creations with precision, session after session, guiding us in the proper techniques of measuring, mixing, testing, table etiquette and more.

During the 50’s and 60’s the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest was in its heyday, as was Julia Child.   There was no more fierce a competition than this one! Today, we have many competitions to watch –  the Amazing Race, Dancing with the Stars, the Voice, Design Competition etc., but they can’t compare if you’re a foodie.   Pillsbury’s Contest is still going strong if you have the proper cable station.

Since 1949, the Pillsbury Bake-Off® Contest has inspired tens of thousands of people to submit original recipes and Pillsbury has awarded millions of dollars in prizes. We are currently assessing how this 67-year-old contest comes to life in a relevant way for a new generation of home chefs.” Ahhh, yes we must stay relevant! (Postscript- The biannual Bake-Off now awards a whopping $1 million to the first place winner!)

Their history began in 1949 when Pillsbury’s extravaganza was initially known as the Grand National Recipe and Baking Contest. Contestants flocked to New York’s Waldorf -Astoria Hotel to compete for the chance to win $50,000.To put this monetary amount in perspective, in 1949 an average home cost only  $14,500.and a loaf of bread cost 14 cents! Whoa!

Each baker’s creation had to be original and utilize Pillsbury flour, of course. In 2013, the big money came into being as well as the public deciding on the top 100 recipes, casting votes online followed by a panel of judges. In addition, categories were streamlined to just three and accepted in stages.  Examples of such categories were: “Quick Rise and Shine Breakfasts,”Amazing Doable Dinners,” and “Simple Sweets and Starters.” Other rules applied such as limiting oneself to seven ingredients (excluding salt, pepper, and water). However, today ingredients include a wide array of General  Mills products. Other perks include the publication of your original recipe in Pillsbury Cookbooks and winning GE appliances.  

Indeed, variety is the spice of life. Some of the Grand Prize winners in the 1960’s – It was all about casseroles such as Dilly Casserole Bread topped with cottage cheese, and a beef-laden Hungry Boy’s Casserole made with dough pinwheels.   Enter an attempt at healthy in the late 70’s with the winner being a Whole Wheat Raisin Loaf.  As we make our way into the more recent past, pizzazz and sophistication appears with the 2012 entry- a  pumpkin ravioli with salted caramel whipped cream!

Other Fascinating Facts

  • There were only four male category winners in 1978, 1990, 1992, 2002
  • There was only one male champion, Kurt Wait of Redwood City California winning in 1996; Kurt was a divorced Dad who began baking to pass the time. He won after making a macadamia fudge Torte, 460 calories per serving (But who’s really counting?)
  • Hosts of the Contest were many and varied – Arthur Godfrey, Art Linkletter, Bob Barker, Willard Scott; Alex Trebek (I’ll bet he gleaned some good Jeopardy questions!); Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart and more!

So, if you’re hungry, how about some magic marshmallow crescent puffs, open sesame pie, onion lover’s twist, some fudgy bonbons or loaded potato pinwheels? They’re all for the making and tasting by champions at Pillsbury!

Sorry, no “Killer Chocolate” has taken the Grand Prize…..yet!  

 

References- https://www.pillsbury.com/our-makers/bake-off-contest

http://www.tvhistory.tv/1949%20QF.htm

https://food52.com/blog/18064-how-national-cooking-competitions-changed-the-way-we-talk-about-recipes

https://www.pressreader.com/usa/texarkana-gazette/20130130/282132108820707

http://articles.latimes.com/1996-02-28/news/mn-40902_1_cake-mix


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Cold Case Sleuths – Fascination, Dedication, Teetering on the Edge of Obsession

 

In my three plus decades of volunteer service to crime victims, I’m sure there have been those who think my passion is beyond healthy. However, in the scheme of things, I couldn’t be healthier with my juggling act. Yes, often it is a solitary act.  But, I do have priorities such as healthy eating, personal hygiene, paying all the bills on time, showing up for work and giving my all to my clients, taking care of home chores, projects, doing laundry, make my bed every morning!  

As a people person at heart, I enjoy communicating with everyone, try to plan ahead for the next chapter in South Carolina and try to get sleep, but admittedly could use more.  I tend to put other’s need before my own as it gives me a sense of accomplishment when I can help others.  But, I have drawn some boundaries with age.  The social arena tends to be at the bottom of the list, and that’s not great, but I deal with it. Unfortunately, relaxation for relaxations’ sake, is something I can never achieve for more than an hour or so. That’s the kind of skill a future life partner could teach me, but that’s another story.

In contrast, I have met and conversed at length with a different breed of crime victim advocate. There are many law enforcement professionals who also take on pet projects in the form of cold cases. They perform their paid work, or may be retired and become consumed by a case which called to them. It often is a case they worked on previously and just can’t let go.  They have promised the family they will stay with it pro bono.  They may go through the motions of life, but in reality, THAT CASE is never far from the forefront of their minds. They may have to drop everything in favor of a new thought, a chance meeting, a bright idea.  Weeks, months, years pass. The mundane things in life appear to fall by the wayside in favor of the next angle, the next lead.  They cut off people, they may live on junk food and caffeine. They pursue every free resource available that may give them an edge in order to bring the case to the next level.

They often are the one lifeline left to family members who have entrusted valuable information, which perhaps the police have neglected or have no time to review in-depth. Trying to find other family or friends who are on the same page, who can help, is mostly an exhausting, thankless task.  Perhaps other family members do not agree, have secrets of their own and view you, the dedicated one, like that pesky fly worthy only of a swat!

Although they are trained in their craft, with a cold case that spans years with little if any action, the key is often to blow off the dust, to give it new life, to rise from the ashes if you will. How does one do that, you ask?  Attention from interested colleagues, writers, publishers, social media or those with something else to offer like a prolific blogger, newly published author, and national radio show host! Enter me, stage left, sometimes when it’s a good fit.  At other times, as I’ve been told, it’s enough just to have someone else listen, to know the story for the sake of posterity.

Recently, I was asked by such a dedicated person about the nuances of how to tell a story, how to maintain loyalties, knowing how far to push the envelope with others. What an honor to be able to offer my opinion! It takes lots of time,  measured thoughts, networking, oodles of research, perseverance, thinking out of the box, patience, the flexibility to be able to shift gears at a moment’s notice to do this kind of intense work, most of the time on a shoestring budget.

Although I prefer a broader approach to helping others, I am not here to judge how others choose to spend their time. It is very honorable to be the sole voice, the lone ranger when that’s all a victim has whose trail has gone cold.  So, carry on good woman!  We need thousands more like you!  


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