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Neighbors Upset About Rape - And Failure of Others to Report It

September 19, 1986

GREENBELT, Md. (AP) _ Residents of this suburban Washington community sought Friday to find out which of their neighbors ignored the screams of a 19-year-old being raped just a few feet away from an apartment house.

″People are frightened,″ said Dea Zugby. ″Perhaps there are people in our midst who do not care, who don’t want to get involved. It makes you feel insecure.″

The woman was attacked Monday night at the door of her apartment at the Greenbriar Phase III condominiums, and then dragged behind the building where she was raped in a picnic area next to the Goddard Space Flight Center, according to Greenbelt city police spokesman Patrick McAndrew.

There are two three-story brick apartment buildings close to the site of the attack. The rape happened six to 10 feet from one apartment window, and two residents later told police they heard the woman’s cries but did nothing, he said.

McAndrew would not release the names of the residents, describing them only as women in their 40s who ″did eventually provide reasons why they didn’t call.″

″I can’t go into what they said,″ he said. ″I don’t think any justification in the world makes it acceptable. I am positive those persons who did not call now think better of the situation.″

″The first woman heard the screams and commotion in the hallway but did not act. The second person was also in close proximity, also heard the screams, and also did not act,″ he said.

McAndrew said the woman stopped screaming when the attacker threatened to kill her, but that police probably could have interrupted the assault, which lasted about five minutes.

″That’s what’s so disheartening, we have a very excellent response time to emergency calls,″ he said.

Greenbelt is a town of about 19,000 people near the University of Maryland’s College Park campus, just outside Washington, D.C. The neighborhood has an active Crime Watch program, residents said, but has only rarely been confronted with violent crime. There are nightly patrols by residents who were plagued in recent years by automobile thieves.

″I am mystified, my neighbors are mystified. As we look around us, we have no idea who these people could be,″ Dorothy Pyles, 62, said of those who heard the screams.

″It’s surprising,″ said Jeff Heron, 23, a resident. ″The minute I turn my stereo up they have the police here in a minute, but here, a major crisis happens outside the window, and nobody calls.″

McAndrew and others balked at comparisons to the well-known 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese in New York, who was repeatedly attacked outside an apartment doorway while residents of a Queens neighborhood ignored her cries, refusing to even call the police.

″That (comparison) is not true,″ said Pyles. ″It does not happen here. I cannot explain, but all I can tell you is that we don’t know who these so- called people are.″

″This situation was not that blatant,″ said McAndrew. ″It wasn’t as if these people were hanging out their windows observing this attack. (But) They did hear the person screaming.″

″I don’t like the picture being painted of us as two buildings of uncaring, apathetic people,″ said Mrs. Zugby. ″I can’t fathom anyone existing who hears screams and does not call ... a simple call to the police.″

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