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Residents, New Book Challenge Controversy Surrounding Kitty Genovese's Death

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Fifty years after her death, the controversy surrounding the murder of Kitty Genovese lives on, and while the case became a symbol of urban apathy, many residents and the author of a new book about her murder dispute that. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.

This neighborhood hasn't changed much in 50 years, and neither has the opinion of the people who continue to dispute stories that Kitty Genovese was brutally stabbed on Austin Street while 38 witnesses, most of them from the Mowbray apartment building, did nothing to help.

"It's a bum rap, yeah," said Aaron Adler, who lived a block away at the time.

Adler didn't see what happened, but the murder certainly changed how people viewed Kew Gardens and New Yorkers as a whole.

"I remember, for example, that John Lindsay, in one of his campaigns, campaigned over here," Adler said. "He was the mayor at one time, but he campaigned over here at the railroad, and I was hearing so much about Kew Gardens and their lack of sympathy."

Bill Corrado said that it wasn't that type of neighborhood. Genovese was stabbed on the sidewalk in front of what is now his furniture store. His father was the owner at the time, and the 28-year-old woman was a customer.

"He was quite upset that he heard friends of his say they did call or attempted to call," Corrado said.

Kevin Cook also challenges the stories of apathy in his new book about the murder. He says that only a few neighbors saw enough to realize what was happening, and some of them did try to help.

After Genovese was stabbed the first time, she staggered around the corner and into a vestibule, where her killer attacked her again. There was a witness.

"He later said, 'I didn't want to get involved,'" Cook said. "That becomes the story, the apathy story."

Cook said that another person tried to help.

"There was one young man that, whose father who called from the Mowbray, but the police didn't send a car at that point," he said.

Fifty years later, the truth of the original story still appears to be in doubt. But after so many years, it's likely the name Kitty Genovese will continue to raise the image of New Yorkers who didn't care enough to help.

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