Twisted Confessions: The Kitty Genovese Story
Criminal prosecutor opens up about notorious murder trial.
NEW YORK – In the early morning hours of March 13, 1964, a young woman named Kitty Genovese was brutally stabbed to death near her apartment in Queens. As police began investigating the murder, they discovered several people had witnessed the attack but did nothing to stop it. This outrageous news quickly spread across the country as national media swarmed in to report the gruesome details of one of New York City’s most notorious crimes.
The Kitty Genovese murder became synonymous with urban apathy and is still invoked in comparable crimes today. It shaped a psychological phenomenon, "Genovese Syndrome" or the “Bystander Effect,” where people are less likely to intervene in an emergency when they're in groups than when alone.
Now, more than 40 years later, the prosecutor in the Genovese case, Charles E. Skoller, shares the untold story behind the murder in his true-crime book, Twisted Confessions: The True Story Behind the Kitty Genovese and Barbara Kralik Murder Trials (Bridgeway Books, April 2008). Based on court documents, face-to-face interviews and Skoller’s first-hand account, the book unravels his investigation into the Genovese murder, and how it turned into a prosecution nightmare.
“There is more drama in one minute of a criminal trial than in any TV program or movie,” says Skoller, who was thrown for a loop when Genovese’s killer confessed to two other murders. “I was prosecuting two different suspects for two different murders, and now one outrageously claimed that he was responsible for both.”
Around the time of Genovese’s death, New Yorkers were still reeling over the recent murders of Barbara Kralik and Annie Mae Johnson. Both women had been stabbed to death while peacefully asleep in their homes, sending a shudder down the community’s spine and fueling universal fear and vulnerability among New Yorkers.
Twisted Confessions takes readers inside the courtroom to reveal how Skoller’s investigation was complicated by multiple confessions, and how he prosecuted all three trials to find the truth and convict the actual killer. Though much has been written about the infamous Genovese case, Skoller reveals little- known facts about the murder that shook an entire nation.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Skoller earned his law degree from Brooklyn Law School in 1970. Throughout his 40 years of experience in trial work, Skoller served as lead counsel in a broad range of legal cases, both criminal and civil, as prosecutor, defense attorney and plaintiffs’ attorney. He has appeared on the History Channel, “Today Show” and the BBC, and continues to speak at universities across the country including Fordham University and Florida Atlantic University. Now retired, Skoller lives in Boca Raton, Fla., with his wife Myrna.