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Document complémentaire à l'analyse proposée par les Grignoux
et consacrée au film
38 témoins
de Lucas Belvaux
France/Belgique, 2012, 1h44
avec Yvan Attal, Sophie Quinton, Nicole Garcia

Le document proposé ici est destiné à accompagner l'analyse du film 38 témoinsde Lucas Belvaux, propsée par Les Grignoux dans le cadre de l'éducation permanente.


Apathy at Stabbing of Queens Woman Shocks Inspector

For more than half an hour 38 respectable, law-abiding citizens watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks.

Twice the sound of their voices and the sudden glow of their bedroom lights interrupted him and frightened him off, Each time he returned and stabbed her again. Not one person telephoned the police during the assault; one witness called after the woman was dead.

That was two weeks ago today. But Assistant Chief Inspector Lussen, in charge of the borough's detectives and a veteran of 25 years of homicide investigations, is still shocked. He can give a matter-of-fact recitation of many murders. But the slaying baffles him - not because it is a murder, but because the 'good people' failed to call the police.

'As we have reconstructed the crime,' he said, 'the assailant had three chances to kill this woman during a 35-minute period. He returned twice to complete the job. If we had been called when he first attacked, the woman might not be dead now.'

She got as far as a street light in front of a bookstore before the man grabbed her. She screamed. Lights went on in the 10- storey apartment house which faces the bookstore. Windows slid open and voices punctured the morning stillness.

Miss Genovese screamed: 'Oh, my God, he stabbed me! Please help me!' From one of the upper windows in the apartment house, a man called down: 'Let that girl alone!'

The assailant looked up at him, shrugged and walked down Austin Street toward a white sedan parked a short distance away. Miss Genovese struggled to her feet.

Lights went out. The killer returned to Miss Genovese, now trying to make her way around the side of the building by the parking lot to get to her apart-ment. The assailant grabbed her again.

'I'm dying!' she shrieked.

Windows were opened again, and lights went on in many apartments. The assailant got into his car and drove away. Miss Genovese staggered to her feet. A city bus passed. It was 3.35 am.

The assailant returned. By then, Miss Genovese had crawled to the back of the building where the freshly painted brown doors to the apartment house held out hope of safety. The killer tried the first door; she wasn't there. At the second door, he saw her slumped on the floor at the foot of the stairs. He stabbed her a third time - fatally.

It was 3.50 by the time the police received their first call, from a man who was a neighbor of Miss Genovese. In two minutes they were at the scene. The neighbor, a 70-year-old woman and another woman were the only persons on the street. Nobody else came forward. The man explained that he had called the police after much deliberation. He had phoned a friend for advice and then he had crossed the roof of the elderly woman to get her to make the call.

'I didn't want to get involved,' he sheepishly told the police.

Six days later, the police arrested Winston Moseley, a 29-year-old business-machine operator, and charged him with the homicide. Mosely had no previous record. On Wednesday, a court committed him to Kings County Hospital for psychiatric observation.

The police stressed how simple it would have been to get in touch with them. 'A phone call,' said one of the detectives, 'would have done it.'

Today witnesses from the neighborhood, find it difficult to explain why they didn't call the police. Lieut. Bernard Jacobs, who handled the investigation by the detectives, said:

'It is one of the better neighborhoods. There are few reports of crimes. You only get the usual complaints about boys playing or garbage cans being turned over.'

'We can understand the reticence of people to become involved in an area of violence,' Lieutenant Jacobs said, 'but where they are in their homes, near phones, why should they be afraid to call the police?'

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