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


DonnaGore-2

 

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Mount Catastrophe

If people were tolerant equally… If “we all could just get along,” there would be no
need to have as many lawyers, courts, crime victim advocates, law enforcement,
crisis counselors, emergency medical technicians, doctors or nurses. At the first
sign, that “miniscule molecule of trouble” could be dealt with quickly, with less
chance of escalation.

What’s the alternative? You can live a low risk life…stay at home, watch
TV …and “never do anything.” Or, you can live as most do, in other words,
take “reasonable risks” …a little spice… and be satisfied.

At the other extreme, you can live your life like Evil Knievel or John Gotti…and see
how fast you scale up “Mount Catastrophe.” Ladyjustice hopes that you never
work your way up the mountain – intentionally or inadvertently. Your ability to
cope with life’s problems is largely a function of genetics, your inner fortitude, your
intelligence and environmental factors.

When we examine what people like Evil Knievel, or those who “wish to conquer the
real Mount Everest” with its inherent dangers, we note that they invite catastrophe.
For a majority of crime victims in the mainstream, they live a relatively low risk life.
Based upon the law of averages and a good dose of hope… and luck, most people
escape “Mount Catastrophe” altogether.

For those who do not escape, see the illustration of escalation to the top of “Mount
Catastrophe”…. And then view this short video of the realities of being on Mount
Everest

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMgNxA9DONg

‘See if Ladyjustice’s mock illustration of “Mount Catastrophe” is not too far from the
real thing… It could happen to you… if you do not take sufficient care of your life.
Or, in an instant, uncontrollably, you could find yourself on “Mount Catastrophe” at
the hands of others….

DRG

Listen Up, Because…. Time’s Up!

                          



How the “Smart Woman” Got Caught Up in the Drama of a Drug Addict 

This is a true story… and a somewhat embarrassing story. However, if in the telling, this story enlightens other “smart people,” than so be it….

[“And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk more” Erika Jong] 

Ladyjustice has always considered herself a knowledgeable person – book smart, analytical, problem solving and possessing enough “street smarts” to know better…  But alas, this was one of the hardest lessons of all – to be played like a fiddle by a master manipulator and not even realize it!  LJ was no match for this person, henceforth to be called “Madam X.” Madam X had a pattern of leading unsuspecting people on a journey to hell and back.  

Ladyjustice should have known better… 

Little did she know at the outset that she would not only be a crime victim again, but also demonstrate an ability to rise above the pain,  and abuse to save the perpetrator’s life…. whatever that was worth.

It all began when this blogger hosted a Woman’s Sunday Brunch gathering within a major hotel in an elite community in central Connecticut.  One Sunday, a new guest, “Madam X” arrived.  She was small in stature, was well scrubbed, freckle faced and appeared “too cute” in looks and personality for words.  In fact, unbeknownst to LJ, she not only strolled in, but rode in on her motorcycle. (Motorcycles are hardly foreign objects to this blogger.  Please refer to past blog- After 30 Years….. (Anniversary Tribute to Don Gore (8-26-1933–4-17-1981) 

Madam X was charming and cast her spell toward LJ even during the first meeting.      It was almost like a dream…  PI’s Denny Griffin or Vito Colucci should have rounded the corner, taken this blogger by the shoulders and said, “Wake up woman, this person is bad news!” But they were nowhere to be found! 

Madam X and LJ became friends, but there was something not quite right about the situation.  This blogger had met others in the past that were in a tough spot, living on the edge for awhile until finances improved.  But LJ should have known that the transient little barn converted apartment was for the wayward and not a “charming fixer-upper.” 

Madam X was down on her luck. She had a job but lived paycheck to paycheck. She was a licensed handyperson, but was working in a hotel catering department.  Madam X was a good cook, skilled at arts and crafts, and voiced goals and aspirations. 

One day while sitting on the couch of her ramshackle apartment, after finishing a call to someone, she warned LJ, “You don’t want to know about my problems,” when an innocent offer of help was made.  LJ had just rescued her stranded with her bike, needing a ride.  (LJ should have walked out the door right then and there.)  

This blogger was oblivious, blinded that “something was not quite right.”  This cute and perky person fed into LJ’s caretaking nature…and Madam X knew it…

Madam X needed a temporary place to stay … so Ladyjustice oblige

d, thinking that it was the right thing to do to help a new friend…. And that our friendship would grow as a result. 

Madam X moved in with her considerable amount of belongings, taking over LJ’s “neat nick condominium” and rearranged her life as never before. 

 

 

Background

Madam X came from a neighboring state, had two sisters.  Both were successful professionals in other geographic areas. Madam X portrayed herself as “the black sheep of the family,” always trying to prove herself, always misunderstood.  If memory serves, her mother was a widow, but dating. 

What Ladyjustice wasn’t aware of initially, was that Madam X had burned many bridges, including her family.  It appeared they were in a state of inertia when LJ desperately called them upon Madam’s first disappearance.(i.e. not in total denial of her problems and former rescues, but not helping her to face the music and suffer the consequences for, such things as losing her driver’s license….. and unbeknownst to this blogger, a drug problem.) 

And so… having a new housemate, Ladyjustice, “Savior of the People” drove Madam X to her hotel job, frequently rising at 4 am to arrive at 6 am  located over the hazardous Avon Mountain.  

Fortuitously, rather than be the constant  chauffer, Ladyjustice decided to put her on her auto insurance as a motorcycle was not always the best means of travel.  Let me say fortuitously again, as one fine day, she borrowed LJ’s Subaru Forrester, fell asleep at the wheel, landed in a ditch and totaled the car, with only a few scratches to her body. 

As time went on, the naiveté on LJ’s part remained and so did the loans of a few dollars here and there (which were accumulating). The good thing is that all expenditures were logged in a book as proof of what was owed (she told herself).  Madam X liked a glass of wine with dinner…every night as it turned out.. which didn’t seem terribly out of place at first?  LJ even sacrificed  Thanksgiving dinner with her family in favor of a twosome, much to her family’s chagrin. 

This blogger wasn’t thrilled with the situation, but kept the thought that the inconveniences were only temporary as soon as she got a better paying job.  The inconveniences mounted and the psychological control and lies began, such that LJ wanted out of the situation altogether.  But Ladyjustice knew Madam X would not go easily.  She was a “hanger on” whose job it was to charm the world. ‘Never afraid physically, but LJ was in a constant state of worry, tired of being manipulated by charm and tired of  beating up oneself for the stupidity of being duped.

By this time, thanks to the insurance company, a new 2003 midnight blue Toyota Matrix was on the premises.  But… there was more to come… 

One night, while Ladyjustice slept, Madam X got up,  “borrowed” LJ’s car keys and stole the new car!  The next morning, the car and Madam X were nowhere to be found.  (Drug addicts are good at disappearing and re-appearing.) 

Ladyjustice had to go to work…but was too ashamed and embarrassed to tell her family members.  She tried unsuccessfully to arrange for continuous rides from co-workers.  In the meantime, LJ did report “the newest incident” to the police immediately. Madam X had no record in the State of Connecticut.  This blogger finally woke up and wanted to have her arrested!  The brand new car was placed on the NCIC-National Crime Information Center’s data base for missing vehicles. 

At this juncture, Ladyjustice had to “swallow her pride” and notify family members for transportation …and for support.  They didn’t see Madam X’s addiction.  They only knew and expressed that she was one of “those people” from the wrong side of the tracks… a user. They were truly concerned for LJ’s welfare. 

It was the first time Ladyjustice had ever seen her mother threaten bodily harm…and her sister wanted to “throw all of her belongings out on the street.”

A plethora of emotions were at work in LJ’s head- anger, disgust, worry, even a little compassion for this criminal.  What made her do it after all?   LJ’s main emotions at the time were incredulousness and  self disappointment for being so easily taken in! 

CAN YOU IMAGINE HOW ANYONE WOULD SINK SO LOW AS TO STEAL THE ONLY TRANSPORTATION AVAILABLE FOR A SINGLE, PHYSICALLY DISABLED PERSON?? 

Ladyjustice just couldn’t get over this fact…. This blogger began to look into eviction procedures – a legal morass.  LJ learned that it was no easy task to evict someone who is not “an official renter.”   Days passed with no word from Madam X and no sign of the car .  Perhaps two weeks came and went… 

LJ discovered the “ace in the hole,” as Madam X’s motorcycle was left on the property.  Sweet revenge!!!  After consulting the police,, or maybe it was an attorney, Ladyjustice asked a neighbor to sell the motorcycle … and he did!

When Madam did show up, dazed and confused, she was totally dumbfounded and “betrayed” that LJ would have sold the motorcycle.  No sense of responsibility was taken, just concern for the motorcycle! 

Long story short, the brand new car was located unscathed (i.e. not stripped) in a high crime area of Hartford.  (Coincidentally, it was exactly  the location in front of the house where LJ’s mother grew up as a child!) The interior was a mess with many a McDonald’s wrapper and a couple hundred miles  on the speedometer.  Upon seeing it, Ladyjustice physically shook and was unable to drive it to the detailing shop. 

And… Big Surprise…. Madam X  stole the car in exchange for drugs.

As she told it,  Madam X had a “once a month cocaine habit” in addition to  an alcohol addiction. 

Second Surprise…  Madam X’s family turned against Ladyjustice for having her arrested.    In truth, she was saving her life… 

This blogger tried to “take the high road” and be supportive of Madam X’s  inpatient Drug Rehabilitation, in which she was a model patient- making LJ arts and crafts projects and colored pictures.  Perhaps LJ was biding her time until the court date.  On the surface, temporary remorse was exhibited by Madam, such that Ladyjustice, always the compassionate one, did not see the value in sending her to jail if she could “be put on the right path.” 

[A bit of trivia for readers,- Did you know that drug and alcohol counselors frequently encourage addicts to color pictures with crayons as it supposedly has a calming effect?  Hah!] 

The court date came and this blogger had her opportunity to list all of the despicable behaviors . Madam X said all of the right things to the judge.  The judge was very surprised at LJ’s generosity  “not to send her to jail, Do not pass go; Do not collect $200”  as they say in Monopoly.

Drug Rehab, urine tests, probation and a halfway house were part of the plan going forward. 

There was a near miss, a potential relapse during this time.  The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services policies supposedly interfered with the ability to demonstrate a clean versus a dirty test.  The details escape this blogger now.  However, Madam X called LJ  hysterically telling her story , pushed to the brink of purchasing drugs ..and then at the last minute, flushing them down the toilet.  Ladyjustice saw an injustice in the story and dutifully wrote a letter to the Medical Director. 

No Surprise Again…  Madam X never really expressed any remorse to Ladyjustice.  She didn’t achieve the “making amends step” of the 12 step program during the time we were together. Several weeks later, Madam X, a couple of transient friends and her sister arrived with trucks to finally vacate LJ’s condominium. It was a tension filled day, but we made it through. 

A few weeks later, the Medical Director of DMHAS responded to LJ’s letter on Madam’s behalf and promised to do  “staff re-training concerning their policies in the future.”    As a final loose end, LJ tried to do the right thing and notify Madam X of the letter and its promise.  (Why I bothered, I’ll never know…) 

Response to the message left at the halfway house – A call from the local police warning LJ  not to harass Madam X!!  Ladyjustice went to Alanon Meetings and tried to forget…. 

Moral of This Story–  

Had Ladyjustice not bothered in the first place with the “Master Manipulator”, the entire sordid tale would not have happened.  If Ladyjustice had not demonstrated the courage to have Madam X arrested, she would not have had the benefit of drug rehabilitation and the court system “trying to set her straight.”  Lady Justice would have retained the first car and all of the money owed, never to be seen again. 

In other words, even with all of Madam X’s mess-ups and devaluing  of other humans, Ladyjustice saved her life…even if it was against her will…   and felt good about that one and only fact!  (But for the Grace of God finding her in some alley…) 

This blogger owns the same “drug car” today. It currently has 131,526 miles on the speedometer.  When the time comes for the bone yard, the bad memories will vanish with  it.  As for Madam X, who knows where she is 8 years later… Hopefully living a cleaner life!

 

As LJ’s boss always says, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

 

 

 

 

Alcatraz. . . And All that Jazz


It was a unique vacation many years ago – in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s.  This was a much anticipated trip by bus throughout selected areas of California, including the infamous Alcatraz Island that held a special significance for this blogger.  Career criminal Perry Lee Herring was behind bars for the murder of my father and another perpetrator, an accomplice in a bank robbery.  I imagined that the harsh conditions of Alcatraz might be the same as what Herring was experiencing in Connecticut. (Naught!)

This was also a special trip as it was an adventure of sorts – staying at a quaint gay owned hotel at the foot of Chinatown… and the opportunity to explore San Francisco and the California wine country… to connect with “my people of orientation,” if I could find them.

As for “my people,” I found but one smokey, not so nice women’s bar.  Even the Women’s Center in the Castro appeared to be underground… but that’s a chapter for another time.  Disillusionment….  This was a man’s town it seemed.

Anyway, some of the details of that trip are fuzzy after all of the intervening years.  However, this fact stands out while on my way to tour Alcatraz Island, I KID YOU NOT…. I WAS ROBBED (i.e. my cash was stolen) while on Alcatraz!  How could it be? Where were the cops?  Where was Burt Lancaster (the Birdman) when I needed them?

I was at the snack bar prior to the tour to buy a drink on this swelteringly hot day.  I laid my change purse with $50.00 cash on the counter for what seemed like just a few seconds.  (The rest was located elsewhere in traveler’s checks).  As I was organizing myself, I took my eyes off the counter and …. GONE!

I immediately reported it and the Ferry police (with their big hats similar to mounted police).  They radioed to the mainland and conducted their search/investigation, interviewing people, filling out documents etc.

I suspected the counter person as a likely suspect or another tourist who made off with my cash and quickly headed back to the ferry.  Results…. NADA!   What a way to begin a vacation!!!  But, I, ladyjustice, was not deterred.  Having gotten the “bad luck” out of the way, I was now on my way  to a fascinating adventure to re-live how crime was dealt with going back to the days of the Civil War in the 1880’s until Alcatraz’s closing in 1963.

One of the many times in which Alcatraz received national attention included  when it was temporarily occupied as part of a Native American Civil Rights Movement that spanned from 1969 to 1971 when Federal agents “removed them” in 1971.

Personally, I would love to see my father’s killer “dropped off” without any life necessities to live out the rest of his miserable life as a lone survivor  (as in the TV show).  Next, I would “drop off all of the sexual predators that could possibly fit on the island.  SAYONARA, BABY!

Back to “The Rock”….

When one tours Alcatraz as a typical tourist, you are given a headset and walkman recorder (perhaps they are digital now) and the story is recounted as you walk the various cell blocks, mess hall etc. and provided with a series of frequently asked questions and answers.

As I toured, I was struck by the absolute desolation and degradation of everyday life.  Today’s prisons, in comparison are country clubs by any measurable standard, no doubt about it!  (Bloggers, I refer you to my previous blog called Prison Programming, Is it a Panacea?) What a dramatic contrast!!

According to the website www.alcatrazhistory.com, the daily routine at Alcatraz was vey mundane – nothing interesting unless you think prisoners waiting several times a day for guards to count and verify people and pieces of silverware…

True interest as a tourist attraction lies in Alcatraz’s age, history of the prison itself, the site of the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast and other features such as seabird colonies and remnants of early military fortifications.

As per http://www.islandsinfo.com and the previous source, here are some

FUN FACTS” about Life on Alcatraz

1)    12 Acre Island maintained by the National Park service;

2)    Began as a Military Reservation in 1850 and was transformed into a Federal Penitentiary in 1934;

3)    Famous Movies Filmed on Alcatraz include: “Murder in the First”-1995; “The Rock”-1996; “Star Wars-The Emperor Strikes Back”-1980 and “Escape from Alcatraz”- 1979;

4)    Average length of stay at “Hotel Alcatraz” – 8 years

*** Tourist average length of stay (Unless you are robbed) 2-3 hours;

5)    Highest capacity of prisoners– 302;

6)    Typical Cell Accommodations – 336 cells in total; 5 feet X 9 feet;

Small sink, toilet and a cot;

7)    Most Common Complaints by Inmates:

“Rule of Silence” (i.e. speaking allowed only during meals and recreation – abolished in 1930);

Constant cold temperatures

8)    Number of Inmate Deaths on the Rock

8- Murdered;

5- Suicide;

15- Natural Illness

(This blogger wonders….. Do those parents who inflict domestic violence in California tell their children… “You had better be good, or we’ll put you on Alcatraz???”  I sure hope not…)

9)    Escape Attempts

36 men attempted involved in 14 separate incidents;

23 were caught;

6 were shot and killed;

2 drowned

No, sorry, make that 37 attempted escapes including Donna Gore… Whew!