New York City is an homage to diversity, hiding in its boroughs are tales as old as time that give New York City it’s unrivalled authenticity. But, what happens when there’s big trouble in the Big Apple? In this article we’ll take you from the sparkling wine glasses and fluffy snow of New York City, to its dark side alter ego: New York Gritty. New York has a rich history, full of sadistic statistics. There is so much more to the city than most people know. Many untold stories, good and bad. From mobsters using rats to maim their enemies, to jealous ex-lovers meaning to kill one person and instead causing an entire building to be burned to it’s frame. What are truly the most horrific tales from the infamous city? In this article we’ll tell you fifteen horrific tales that make you wonder… is New York all that it seems?
15 I Can't Breathe
July 17th, 2014 may not be a day that immediately strikes us as monumental, however, on this day was one of the most brutal and viral arrests made by the NYPD that actually resulted in the death of Eric Garner. Police approached Garner outside of a convenience store in Staten Island, New York because they suspected Garner of selling loose cigarettes without a tax stamp. The videos started rolling when Garner began to tell the police that not only were they harassing him with no proof of any wrongdoing, but it had not been the first time. This is where the situation takes a deadly turn. As you can see in the image above, police attempt to arrest Garner.
With no clear reason as to why he is being arrested Garner begins to resist police. When a swarm of officers gets Garner to the floor, officer Daniel Pantaleo proceeds to put Garner in what the police and media called an “illegal chokehold”. Garner screamed “I can’t breathe” eleven times, but officer Pantaleo’s grip never loosened, Garner passed away on that New York sidewalk at the hands of the NYPD.
14 The Baby in the Cooler
On July 23rd, 1991 the NYPD made a grisly discovery along the Henry Hudson Parkway in Manhattan, New York. Inside a navy blue cooler, they found the body of a four-year-old child decomposed beyond recognition and bound with rope and a chord from venetian blinds. To the NYPD’s surprise, no one matching the description of Baby Hope had been reported missing recently. The case remained cold for twenty-two years until the development of DNA to be used to identify victims, after police exhumed the little girl’s body, DNA comparison led to her identification as Anjelica Castillo.
Her mother had not reported her missing because around the same time Anjelica had taken her three siblings with him to Mexico, unbeknownst to the mother Anjelica was not with him, but was with a paternal cousin from Queens where Anjelica would meet her fate. Anjelica’s cousin Conrado Juarez confessed to her murder in 2013, telling police he tied her up, assaulted her and then smothered her with a pillow. The murder was so bizarre and intentional, police still believe Juarez has other victims that have yet to be identified.
13 Mafia Don Shot Dead in His Spaghetti
New York history is rich with the history of the American mafia, gangsters with Italian blood that ruled large portions of New York economy with an iron fist through racketeering, fraud, narcotics and most of all murder. There are five known families of the American mafia, Lucchese, Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino and Genovese. The five families were all known for different things, some say the Gambinos were the most brutal, others say the Genoveses’ were the most efficient, however, no matter their strengths and power, they all hailed to an organization in Italy called “the commission”.
The Commission was to be the supervisor that made all final decisions about business in the states, they authorized hits and business ventures. On July 12th, 1979 Bonanno family boss Carmine Galante was in hot water and he didn’t even know. The other four families were agitated with Galante after he blitzed the narcotics market in New York and refused to split any of the profits. At 2:45 pm Galante was finishing up a lunch of spaghetti and meatballs at Joe and Mary’s Italian Restaurant in Bushwick, Brooklyn when three masked men appeared on the outdoor patio and began firing rounds into Carmine Galante.
12 The Preppy Killer
On August 26th, 1986 Jennifer Levin had no idea that the man she had met that night at Dorrian’s Red Hand Bar would end her life at just eighteen-years-old. That morning a cyclist found Jennifer’s body bruised, cut and disheveled in Central Park. The top part of Levin’s clothing had been pushed up around her neck and the medical examiner determined that she was strangled with them. A man named Robert Chambers was later identified by bar patrons as the man that left that night with Jennifer Levin, sure enough when police brought him in for questioning he had tell-tale scratch marks that looked suspiciously as fresh as Jennifer’s.
He was later arrested and tried for the crime, however, police believed he could be linked to other murders and the media dubbed him the “preppy killer” because of the type of girls he killed. More famously, an entertainment news source leaked a home video Chambers made when he was out on bail. The bizarre video depicted Chambers choking himself and gagging loudly, he then began to twist off the head of a Barbie doll, singing “my name is… oops! I think I killed it!”.
11 What Does 50 Cent Have to Do With Jam Master Jay's Murder?
Jason Mizell, or better known as his stage name, Jam Master Jay, was a member of the influential breakout 80’s hip hop group Run D.M.C. However, the night before Halloween in 2002 Jam Master Jay would meet his fate in a studio in Jamaica, Queens. Around 7 pm, two masked assailants forced their way through the Merrick Boulevard recording studio and shot both Jam Master Jay and another associate, Jay suffered a fatal gunshot wound, however, his associate lived to tell. Though the murder remains largely unsolved, rumors circulated that Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff was linked to Jam Master Jay’s death. McGriff was a New York kingpin; he is also the man who is believed to have shot rapper 50 Cent after 50 wrote a song called “Ghetto Qur’an” rumored to be about McGriff’s drug history. Those who believe McGriff is responsible for the murder of Jam Master Jay say it was due to his continued work with 50 Cent and was a statement to all those in the New York scene that 50 Cent was to remain blacklisted.
10 The Man Who Made John Gotti
The mafia affectionately referred to Paul Castellano as the “Howard Hughes” of their organization, because of his extreme financial success. Castellano became the boss of the Gambino crime family, after the title was passed onto him by his legendary predecessor Carlo Gambino. Though Castellano’s life was like a movie, his death managed to be even more salacious because Castellano was assassinated by one of his own: his right hand man, ruthless gangster John Gotti. On December 16th, 1985 Paul Castellano was being driven to a midtown Manhattan steak house, where an assassination team was already waiting for him. As Castellano’s car pulled up to the curb, the assassination team ran up to Castellano and shot him on the New York sidewalk. Some say that after the hit, John Gotti drove by just to see his body. Within the following days, the new boss of the Gambino crime family was announced, none other than John Gotti. This angered other crime family bosses because Gotti never asked to commission to approve the assassination of Paul Castellano. However, one boss was especially agitated: Genovese crime family boss Vincent Gigante. Gigante organized a hit on Gotti, which he miraculously survived, earning him the title of one of the most infamous mob bosses of all time.
9 Could This Event Have Signaled 9/11?
Eight years before the infamous 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, the World Trade Center was the subject of headlines for a similar reason. Around lunch time on February 26th, 1993 a yellow Ryder van filled with explosives crawled into the public parking below the north tower of the World Trade Center. The assailants that filled the van lit a twenty-foot fuse and fled the scene on foot, no more than twenty minutes later the bomb detonated. The explosion was so powerful it created a hole that reached ninety-eight feet, spanning over several floors. Though the bomb only killed six people, thousands were injured due to the blast and the thick smoke that coated the stairwells and elevators, eventually becoming a dark cloud consuming the entire north tower. The blast also cut off all power to the World Trade Center, including the emergency power. Hundreds of people became trapped in the elevators at the time of the blast, including an entire classroom of kindergarteners that was touring the World Trade Center.
8 The Lord High Executioner Gets Executed
Albert Anastasia was perhaps one of the most feared and notorious gangsters in all of La Cosa Nostra history, he was a feared hitman who earned nicknames like “The Mad Hatter” and “Lord High Executioner”. Most believe the reason the media dubbed the American mafia “Murder Inc.” was because of Anastasia’s violent persona. He would become the head of what is now known as the Gambino crime family. However, as Anastasia would find out, he was certainly mortal. On the morning of October 25th, 1957 Albert Anastasia entered the barber shop at the Park Sheraton Hotel in midtown Manhattan for the last time. As he sunk into his barber’s chair, two men rushed in with scarves covering their faces and began firing into Anastasia’s chest. Remarkably, eye witnesses say the violent hitman lunged at his attackers as he was dying, however, he was so disoriented he was actually lunging at the attacker’s reflection in the mirror. He died moments later.
7 The Career Girls Murders
On August 28th, 1963 Patricia Tolles began the walk back to her 88th street apartment, completely unaware that once she opened the door, her life would be forever changed. As she opened the door she found her apartment in disarray, but when she looked further she found the apartment saturated in blood and both of her roommates slumped over on the floor of one of the bedrooms, each stabbed 60 times. One was Janet Wiley, daughter of famous advertising executive Max Wylie, and the other was a schoolteacher named Emily Hoffert. Two bloody 12-inch carving knives lay beside the girls’ dead bodies. The scene puzzled investigators, there was no sign of forced entry and the brutality of the crime suggested that the victims knew their killer. Even more unsettling was the fact that the apartment building was adorned with a doorman, who claimed he never saw anything out of the ordinary. Despite police’s initial thoughts the killer was later found to be a 22-year-old burglar named Ricky Robles who had been known to commit crimes for money to support his drug addiction. On the day of the murders he was overheard saying that he “just iced two dames”.
6 New York's Mad Bomber
For sixteen years New York City was terrorized by a series of gun powder and pipe bombs had been planted in New York City hotspots and landmarks beginning in the early 1940’s. Of the thirty-three bombs that had been planted, only twenty-two exploded, causing fifteen injuries. The bombs had contained letters attached, aimed toward Edison, saying that the bombings would continue with the cryptic message “BOMBS WILL CONTINUE UNTIL THE CONSOLIDATED EDISON COMPANY IS BROUGHT TO JUSTICE FOR THEIR DASTARDLY ACTS AGAINST ME. I HAVE EXHAUSTED ALL OTHER MEANS. I INTEND WITH BOMBS TO CAUSE OTHERS TO CRY OUT FOR JUSTICE FOR ME.” The bomber was identified finally decades later through the examination of letters he had sent into newspapers, his name was George Metesky. He was later found to be mentally ill and committed to an institution, however, upon his arrest he told papers that he would do it again, and did not regret any of the bombings.
5 $1 of Gasoline Costs Nearly 100 People their Lives
On March 25th, 1990 around 100 young Hondurans were gathered inside the Bronx novelty Happy Land Social club celebrating Carnival. Unbeknownst to the guests, a drunken Julio Gonzalez was on his way back to the club with $1 worth of gasoline. Gonzalez’s former girlfriend, Lydia Feliciano, was a coat check girl at the illegally run establishment. Earlier that night the former couple had been arguing over her employment at the club, Gonzalez had urged her to quit, Feliciano had different plans. She told Gonzalez that she had enough and had him thrown out by a bouncer at around 3 am. However, when he returned drunk, with gasoline he would spill it all at the bottom of a staircase and set it ablaze. The building quickly engulfed in flames and a total of 87 people lost their lives. The building had been ordered to shut down in 1988 for not meeting building code regulations, those codes were lack of fire exits, alarms or sprinkler systems. The building remained open for business.
4 The Assassination of Malcolm X
The force of nature we know as Malcolm X was an African-American Muslim minister on the forefront of activism. He delivered an eloquent message to white America about just how damaging their prejudices were against the African-American, and how it would devastatingly impede African-American mobility in America for generations to come. During a stint in prison, Malcolm X became a member of the Nation of Islam, and after his release quickly became one of their most famous and influential leaders. Years down the line, that relationship with the organization became strained. However, Malcolm X’s assassination would be just as memorable as his rise to power. On February 19th, 1965 Malcolm X told a reporter during an interview that the Nation of Islam was actively trying to have him killed, two days later that fear would become reality. In a ballroom in Manhattan Malcolm X was preparing to address the Afro-American Unity when a disturbance broke out. Seconds later a man with a sawed off shotgun rushed the prolific icon, and shot him once in the chest. Two more assassins emerged from the crowd, filling Malcolm X with twenty-one bullet holes.
3 Hello New York... This is the Zodiac Speaking
Hello New York….. this is the Zodiac speaking. Most may remember the terror that swept the Bay Area that identified himself as the Zodiac killer. His methods and victims varied, however, one thing remained the same: the taunting letters he sent to police. The letters contained locations of bodies and manners of death, but also contained confusing coded messages conveying a secret message for only the skilled to read. When the code was broken, the message read “I like killing because it is so fun”. The Bay Area Zodiac killer struck fear in the hearts of many, but even more so when police thought there was a second coming. Decades after the last Zodiac murder, police feared he may have resurfaced in 1990, this time in New York. The body count was climbing and letters were being sent to the police by the assailant, claiming he was the Bay Area Zodiac killer. However, when police found the assailant he was a high school dropout by the name of Heriberto Seda, and though he was not the real Zodiac, in true Zodiac fashion he still managed to claim three lives.
2 Who is Joel the Ripper?
Up next is a true monster by the name of Joel Rifkin, cleverly dubbed by the media “Joel the Ripper” because of his fascination with dismembering his victims. Rifkin was a terror that swept New York from 1989 until 1993. His first victim was killed in his Long Island home, after the murder he experimented with her body, cutting off her fingertips, removing her teeth and severing her head in order to keep her identity hidden. However, later on his dismembering became more passionate than precise, and the cuts no longer seemed to have meaning behind them. Police concluded that toward the end of his rampage Rifkin was dismembering to conceal the identities of his victims, but then after the task was complete, experimenting with their bodies and mutilating them for his own amusement. Finally, in 1993 police attempted to stop Rifkin for not having license plates. After a high speed chase ensued, Rifkin crashed into a pole, releasing a foul odor coming from the vehicle. When police looked further they found the hidden dismembered body of his seventeenth and final victim.
1 The Son of Sam
The case of the rampage killer the media dubbed “The Son of Sam” is truly puzzling. David Berkowitz would rise to celebrity status when he was named the killer who had been responsible for nearly ten shooting deaths in New York City. Police finally had their man when they noticed that a van registered to David Berkowitz, had gotten parking tickets next to every Son of Sam crime scene. When they searched Berkowitz’s home they found the .44 caliber weapon that matched the ballistics report associated with all the Son of Sam victims. Finally, Berkowitz’s reasoning for his dastardly deeds was even more unbelievable than the acts themselves. Berkowitz claimed his neighbor “Sam’s” dog “Harvey” was a demon compelling him to commit these murders, hence the name Son of Sam. After David Berkowitz, New York City enacted a set of laws referred to commonly as the “Son of Sam laws”, preventing criminals from profiting off the notoriety of their crimes, after they watched how Berkowitz reveled in the spotlight.