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Remembering Kitty Genovese

Kitty was the most wonderful person I've ever met. I still remember her face. I can see it in my mind: very Italian looking, very chiseled features, dark hair, like only about five feet tall. And very likeable person, very vibrant, where I'm very quiet, so we were complimentary.

I think we met in a bar downtown, and she says, "Well, I'd like to see you again." So I says, "Well, I don't have a phone." I lived in a rooming house. I came home that night from work, and I found the note on the rooming house door. She found where I lived, and called me at the pay phone that night. So we were together for a year after that. One year. One year exactly, to the day.

Being a gay woman in that society was very hard, so we were in the closet a lot. In fact, her family didn't know. I mean, they know now, but there was denial there. It was very hard then.

I remember I went bowling with a friend of ours and I came home. I was tired that night. It was probably 11:30. I went to bed. And the next thing I remember is the police knocking on the door at 4 o'clock in the morning. So they took me to the emergency room, said, "You have to identify her." So I did -- standard identifying a person with the white sheet. And I went outside and sat on the bench. They said, “We're going to take you home,” and I said, "I'm going to wait for her."

Sorry, I'm going to start crying here, but this gets rough...

So I just went home and I started drinking, because I couldn't deal with this. And I drank for about six months, and I realized this is -- what am I doing with my life? So I stopped drinking. I got an apartment, and I went back to school. So, I mean, I know about loss.

I still have a lot of anger toward people because they could have saved her life. I mean, all those steps along the way when he attacked her three times. And then he sexually assaulted her too, when she was dying. I mean, you look out the window and you see this happening and you don't help. That's -- how do you live with yourself, knowing you didn't do anything? That's the biggest lesson to be learned from this: really love each other. We have to on this planet.

Producer: Matthew Ozug / Executive Producer: David Isay / Production Assistant: Jessica Ticktin / Funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts.

"Remembering Kitty Genovese" premiered March 13, 2004, on Weekend Edition Saturday. Copyright © 2004 Sound Portraits Productions. All Rights Reserved.


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This piece is available in the following audio formats [4:28 min]:



Photo of Mary Ann Mary Ann Zielonko (JPEG, 17 KB)

CourtTV's Crime Library entry on Kitty Genovese

Excerpts from Winston Mosleley confession

Photo of the crime scene (JPEG, 28 KB)

Thirty-Eight Witnesses, A. M. Rosenthal's book about the murder

The Screams of Kitty Genovese, the musical

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