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Verk av Catherine Pelonero


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A look at our legal system and mental illness

Three stars. The details of these crimes were examined but in a somewhat disjointed way. Sadly, the truth about why Joseph Christopher Miller may never be known. The author critiques the justice system's handling of those who are mentally ill.
Chrissylou62 | Aug 1, 2020 |
What a sad, sad, situation. Even sadder is the fact that this doesn't surprise or shock me. I think what did surprise me was more the summary 20-30 years later and the way events were allowed to change and become a myth. That was almost even more disturbing to think that as something becomes history people refuse to believe it happened if they didn't like it. They remember it differently and that becomes the truth.
bookswithmom | 4 andra recensioner | Dec 18, 2019 |
I have read both this book and the one by Kevin Cook Kitty Genovese : the murder, the bystanders, the crime that changed America. While I was impressed by Cook's book, which I read first, I would say that this was superior, with at least one caveat. It gives us a lot more information about the people involved, and the consequences afterwords, as well as recent updates on some of the people involved. The book is well researched and well written, and I would recommend it to anyone with the slightest interest.

One notable result that she reports on is the work of Harold Takooshian who did studies on bystander apathy: people who didn't report staged ongoing crimes to a nearby policeman (some even warned the "criminal" that the policeman was nearby); the complete failure of any one to help a "lost" ten-year old child. He also founded the annual Catherine Genovese Memorial Conference, beginning in 1984. It is sometimes referred to in the press as the Kitty Genovese Memorial Seminar on Bad Samaritanism.

One major difference between the two books is the attitude that they took to towards the people in Kitty's neighborhood. Michael Hoffman claims that although he and his father were not certain what happened, they saw Kitty staggering after Moseley's first retreat, and called the police to say that there was a woman possibly in need of assistance. The dispatcher didn't think the incident was important and didn't send the police until the second, much too late call. The police claim that they were not called, and there is no way to prove what actually happened. Authors choose one side or the other based on how they prefer to interpret events. Pelonero reports the Hoffman claim, but on the whole, seems to support the police claim. Cook also believes that many didn't understand what was happening, or, that seeing the attacker flee and Kitty get up, thought the incident was over. Pelonero gives more emphasis to the fact that Kitty was obviously staggering, and was screaming that she had been stabbed, which in the case of those who could understand what she was saying, makes Cook's latter scenario a bit thin.

On the other hand, even if people further off could hear screams, could they understand what Kitty was saying? People further off might more reasonably have supposed that people nearer at hand, who could better tell what was going on, would deal with it. They both point out that Joseph Fink and Karl Ross, the latter a so-called "friend" of Kitty, were direct witnesses who both had a clear view of one of the attacks, and heard what was going on, and still did nothing useful. To this list can also be added Irene Frost, who watched out her window, and when back to sleep when Kitty and Moseley moved out of view, and the Koshkins, who, although further off, could see more of both attacks. There is very little said about the other residents of the Tudor, not all of them could have seen either attack. Ross called a friend in Nassau for advice. Sources disagree on whether the friend advised not getting involved, or calling the police; perhaps this is because Ross changed his story a few times. Pelonero points out that Karl Ross was a closeted homosexual at a time when homosexuality was very much illegal, although she obviously doesn't consider that to be an excuse for his failure to act immediately. He did at least call Greta Schwartz's apartment, and she went to investigate what had happened to Kitty, and called the Farrars. Sophie Farrar immediately ran to Kitty to try to help (their son said that his father followed shortly, but Sophie didn't wait for him), and got Ross to call the police, but he had wasted a lot of valuable time. I was disappointed that there was no further information on Ross or the Farrars. Fink was so uncooperative, and Ross changed his story so many times, that the prosecution didn't call them as witnesses.

So I have to conclude that Pelonero's defense of the accuracy of Rosenthal's piece on the murder is wrong, one exaggeration in an otherwise fine book. Perhaps she finds it correct in spirit if inaccurate in details. Cook is right that it simply isn't true that thirty-eight people spent over half-an-hour watching Kitty die. There were not thirty-eight people who could have seen it all. Perhaps thirty-eight people heard screams, but that isn't quite the same thing. The acoustics of the block are puzzling. Apparently Greta Schwartz, in the Tudor, didn't hear the screams; she was sleeping. At 3:00-3:30 am, probably most people were. That makes it hard to insist that so many other people on the block "must" have heard the screaming. Since Greta ran to see Kitty as soon as Ross called her, so I would tend to believe her when she said she didn't hear screams. It is bad enough that Fink, Ross, Frost and the Koshkins saw at least part of the attacks and did nothing, or in Ross' case, very little. I will note that there is nothing about what Mary Ann Zielenko, Kitty's partner, and Louisa, the girl that they had taken in, heard. Mary Ann probably wouldn't have thought it was Kitty, whatever she heard, since she was not expecting her back that night. Louisa disappeared very quickly, but both authors interviewed Mary Ann. Perhaps they thought the question too delicate. (Another book says that Mary Ann slept through the attacks.)

Another issue brought up in this case is the willingness of people to deal with the police. In the years since these books were published, it has become increasingly clear that we have a crisis in police-public relations. I respect the police and the job that they do, often at great risk to themselves, of maintaining civil order. Having to deal with the worst people can sometimes make it difficult to deal with law-abiding people trying to be good citizens. On the other hand, the recent, much publicized issues of the shootings of unarmed civilians and worse, suspicious deaths in police custody, mostly affecting black men, as well as police attacks on people reporting suspected crimes, indicate serious problems that tear at the fabric of our society. Most germaine to this case is Justine Damond, who called to report a suspected assault that she heard, and was shot to death by a responding police officer when she came out to their car to talk to them. So alienated are police and public sometimes, that the police often blame the public for being distressed at these occurrences, rather then blaming the fellow officers whose actions betray the honor of the police force, or at least demonstrate a lack of the good judgements and steadiness of nerve to be a good policeman. At least a number of times, the officer, while not convicted of a crime, even when indicted, is no longer on the force.

Just to be clear, I don't think that the slogan "Black Lives Matter" is intended to suggest that other lives matter less, and the murder of random police officers is a form of terrorism, and inexcusable.

With my one cavil about the Rosenthal article, I strongly recommend this book, and of the two, I prefer it over Cook's if you only read one, but I suggest reading both.
… (mer)
PuddinTame | 4 andra recensioner | Dec 23, 2017 |
An exceedingly thorough yet never boring look at this famous murder. While it has always been submitted that people 'saw' what was happening and did nothing (something like 37 people), the book makes much clearer why this occurred (not "not wanting to get involved" but not understanding what they were seeing or hearing....really only one man could have perhaps saved Kitty, a neighbor, who was too afraid to even call the police until he called another friend for advice on what to do. Such a sad event and ending of a promising life.… (mer)
TiffanyHow | 4 andra recensioner | Oct 3, 2017 |

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Dina Pearlman Narrator
Danielle Ceccolini Cover designer
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Robert S. Bukaty Cover artist
Rain Saukas Cover designer



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