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We Know What Evil

9 crimes that New York has followed with a passion. 

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JOE COLOMBO SHOT
JUNE 28, 1971 Colombo, mob leader and founder of the Italian-American Civil Rights League, is killed before thousands at a rally, thereby undercutting his statement: “Mafia—what’s the Mafia? There is no Mafia.”

SON OF SAM SHOOTINGS
SUMMER 1977 The dog told him to.

LUFTHANSA KENNEDY HEIST
DECEMBER 11, 1978 $5.8 million in cash swiped, for years the biggest robbery in American history. A story in this magazine by Nick Pileggi led to GoodFellas.

ETAN PATZ ABDUCTION
MAY 25, 1979 Every parent’s nightmare. The poster continues to haunt the city: STILL MISSING.

JEAN HARRIS SHOOTS DR. HERMAN TARNOWER
MARCH 10, 1980 Harris, the headmistress of the Madeira Girls’ School, planning to kill herself, went to see Tarnower, her lover and the author of The Scarsale Diet, to say good-bye. She found another woman’s negligee there and put the suicide weapon to another use.

PAUL CASTELLANO MURDERED
DECEMBER 16, 1985 Neanderthal clotheshorse John Gotti whacks technocrat Paulie in the last of the great mob public passion plays.

ROBERT CHAMBERS AND JENNIFER LEVIN
AUGUST 26, 1986 The preppie murder. Chambers, loathsome sub-dreamboat, claims to gets carried away during “rough sex,” killing partner Levin in Central Park.

THE CENTRAL PARK JOGGER
APRIL 19, 1989 Amid a blizzard of tab headlines, five teens on an alleged “wilding” spree are convicted in a rape and assault on the famously unnamed investment-banker jogger. After much jail time, the five are released when DNA evidence exonerates them.

COLIN FERGUSON
DECEMBER 7, 1993 Ferguson, a Jamaican, kills six and injures nineteen on a Long Island Rail Road train. Bill Kunstler and Ron Kuby attempt the now-infamous “black rage” defense to explain Ferguson’s actions, but the gunman fires them, prompting the lawyers to say their former client was “too crazy” to plead insanity.


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