Independent Lens: The Witness

About This Episode


The name Kitty Genovese became synonymous with bystander apathy after The New York Times reported that 38 witnesses watched her being murdered in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York – and did nothing to help. This version of events went largely unchallenged for half a century. The Witness follows Kitty’s younger brother Bill Genovese’s dogged search for the truth as he attempts to find out for himself what actually took place that fateful night of March 13, 1964.

In the process, he unravels a myth that transformed his life, condemned a city, and defined an era. In his decade-long investigation, Bill confronts those closest to the crime, including the surviving witnesses to Kitty’s death, the prosecutor in the murder trial, and journalists Mike Wallace, Gabe Pressman, and A.M. Rosenthal, The New York Times editor who wrote the initial coverage of the murder that launched the legend.

A gripping mystery, The Witness debunks one of America’s most chilling crime stories as a brother reclaims his sister’s forgotten life from her infamous death.