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N.Y.P.D.Q.

How often do the police get their man?

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The recent stabbing death of Amy Watkins in Brooklyn was one of those high-profile murders (like Jonathan Levin's) that the tabloids swarm over, with coverage almost invariably tailored to inspire panic -- the suspect is still at large; you could be next. NYPD detectives, of course, also swarm all over such cases. But with what results? A decade's-end homicide historiography:

* The 1990 subway stabbing of Utah tourist Brian Watkins: Cops found four of eight suspects partying that night at the Roseland Ballroom. In the end, seven got 25 years to life.

* The 1992 murder of ex-El Diario editor Manuel de Dios Unanue: The Cali-cartel-funded hit man was sentenced to life in 1994.

* The 1995 murder of Maria Isabel Alves, a Madison Avenue shoe-store salesclerk whose body was found in Central Park: No arrests.

* The Zodiac killer: Found in 1996, six years after his first murder; that June, he shot his half-sister and engaged police in a three-hour shootout. A sergeant noticed the perp's mystic doodles and did a fingerprint match. Sentenced to life last year.

* The June 1996 murder of a Park Avenue dry cleaner known as the "Lollipop Lady," along with the brutal beating of a piano teacher in Central Park the same week: Police matched a fingerprint to John Royster, a turnstile-jumper booked three weeks earlier. Life without parole.

* The 1996 murder of 2nd Avenue Deli owner Abe Lebewohl: Investigation still open.


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