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Neighbors Fail to Summon Help As Woman Raped

September 19, 1986

GREENBELT, Md. (AP) _ Police are refusing to identify two condominium residents who did not call for help despite hearing the screams of a 19-year-old woman who was being raped.

Had the two neighbors, both women in their 40s, sought assistance, the attack may have been prevented, Patrick McAndrew, a spokesman for police in the Washington, D.C., suburb, said Thursday.

Police also would not reveal the reasons the neighbors gave for not responding to the Monday night attack, which occurred six feet from the building.

″The people who heard it and didn’t call know who they are and that’s all that needs to be said,″ McAndrew said.

The incident recalls the case of Kitty Genovese, a woman who was murdered in New York City in 1964 while 38 people in her Queens neighborhood heard and ignored her cries for help.

″I’d like to think it’s not as blatant or as bad as that,″ McAndrew said. ″I’d like to think that the (two Greenbelt neighbors) thought better of it later, but decided it was too late to call us for help.″

McAndrew said the woman screamed and fought for five minutes until her attacker threatened to kill her if she continued. Average police response time in the suburb of Washington, D.C., is two to three minutes, he said.

The neighbors told investigators they heard the screams but did nothing.

The attacker grabbed the victim by the neck from behind while she was unlocking the door to her apartment in the 240-unit garden-style complex at about 9:15 p.m., police said. She screamed as she was dragged outside, through the hall and through two doors.

Police said the attacker demanded money, but raped her when she said she had no cash.

She was treated at the Prince George’s County Sexual Assault Center and released. Police have no suspects, McAndrew said.

Dorothy Pyles, director of a crime watch project in the complex, reacted with outrage.

″It certainly sounds inhuman, doesn’t it?″ she said. ″It has made me ill. It has made all of us ill, not wanting to get involved, if that was their reason that they did not call police. In my opinion, they were, in fact, involved when the first scream penetrated their ears.″

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