Kitty Genovese and the Bystander Effect


Many individuals may know about the controversial case of the murder of Kitty Genovese that prompted inquiries of the bystander effect. The bystander effect occurs when multiple people who witness an emergency situation fail to intervene. It is believed that the bystander effect occurs, because of diffusion of responsibility. Observers do not help, because they believe that the other observers will help. Now, lets get into details about the case of Kitty Genovese and how the bystander effect played a major role in her murder.

Kitty Genovese was a New Yorker and the eldest of five children. She worked as a bar manager on Jamaica Avenue. On March 13th, 194 she was driving home from her job and arrived home around 3:15am. She parked her car about 100 feet from her apartments door and began walking toward the building. As she walked toward her building a guy named Moseley approached her. Genovese began to run across the parking lot toward the front of her building. He ran after her and stabbed her in the back twice. She began screaming, “Oh my God, he stabbed me! Help me!” Several neighbors heard her cry for help, but no one seemed to intervene. He than ran away and frantically changed his clothes when a neighbor screamed out the window to leave that girl alone. Ten minutes later Moseley returned and found Genovese who was lying on the floor barely conscious. A locked door was preventing her from entering the building. out of the view of witnesses he stabbed her several more times. While Genovese played there dying he raped her, stole $49 from her, and left her in the hallway. Afterwards, a neighbor named Sophia left her apartment to go to the crime scene and held her in her arms until the ambulance arrived. She was pronounced dead in route to the hospital.

Records of the earliest calls to police are unclear and were not given a high priority by the police. One witness said his father called the police after the initial attack and reported that a woman was beat up, but got up and walked around. A few minute after the final attach, a witness called the police and arrived within minutes of the call. Reports of the attack in the New York Times covered a scene of indifference from neighbors who failed to come to Genovese’s aid. 37 witnesses supposedly saw or heard the attack and did not call the police. Her brother believes the police were summoned twice, but did not respond because they believed it was a domestic dispute. Genovese’s death could have been prevented if bystanders called the police or intervened sooner than they did.


Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar