New York: Sentimental Journeys

We know her story, and some of us, although not all of us, which was to become one of the story’s several equivocal aspects, know her name. She was a twenty-nine-year-old unmarried white woman who worked as an investment banker in the corporate finance department at Salomon Brothers in downtown Manhattan, the energy and natural resources group. She was said by one of the principals in a Texas oil stock offering on which she had collaborated as a member of the Salomon team to have done “top-notch” work. She lived alone in an apartment on East 83rd Street, between York and East End, a sublet cooperative she was thinking about buying. She often worked late and when she got home she would change into jogging clothes and at eight-thirty or nine-thirty in the evening would go running, six or seven miles through Central Park, north on the East Drive, west on the less traveled road connecting the East and West Drives at approximately 102nd Street, and south on the West Drive. The wisdom of this was later questioned by some, by those who were accustomed to thinking of the Park as a place to avoid after dark, and defended by others, the more adroit of whom spoke of the citizen’s absolute right to public access (“That park belongs to us and this time nobody is going to take it from us,” Ronnie Eldridge, at the time a Democratic candidate for the City Council of New York, declared on the op-ed page of The New York Times), others of whom spoke of “running” as a preemptive right. “Runners have Type A controlled personalities and they don’t like their schedules interrupted,” one runner, a securities trader, told the Times to this point. “When people run is a function of their life style,” another runner said. “I am personally very angry,” a third said, “Because women should have the right to run any time.”

For this woman in this instance these notional rights did not prevail. She was found, with her clothes torn off, not far from the 102nd Street connecting road at one-thirty on the morning of April 20, 1989. She was taken near death to Metropolitan Hospital on East 97th Street. She had lost 75 percent of her blood. Her skull had been crushed, her left eyeball pushed back through its socket, the characteristic surface wrinkles of her brain flattened. Dirt and twigs were found in her vagina, suggesting rape. By May 2, when she first woke from coma, six black and Hispanic teenagers, four of whom had made videotaped statements concerning their roles in the attack and another of whom had described his role in an unsigned verbal statement, had been charged with her assault and rape and she had become, unwilling and unwitting, a sacrificial player in the sentimental narrative that is New York public life.

NIGHTMARE IN CENTRAL PARK, the headlines and display type read. Teen Wolfpack Beats and Rapes Wall Street Exec on Jogging …

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Letters

Sentimental Journeys’ March 7, 1991