Wednesday, April 27, 1977

Discotheque Opens Despite Its Leaking Waterfall

The waterfall was leaking almost up to the last minute; the final furniture delivery was made with just three hours to go, and for a while it appeared that the camera crew from the Italian Vogue might never find a place to plug in its lights.

“We have to be careful,” said Mr. Rubell, one of the three young entrepreneurs who have risked what one spokesman estimated to be $1.1 million on the proposition that a sizeable segment of the city’s avant-garde disco-goers can be lured to the West Side by a megawatt light show worthy of a Broadway theater.

The music had been blaring for most of an hour before an appreciable number of patrons, many bearing special invitations, managed to make their way past the gate checks.

A surprisingly large number of patrons milling around the entrance chose to wait, apparently on the theory that any place that hard to get into must be worth waiting for.

The result was that from West 54th Street, where several dozen patrons were blocking off half the street, the theater appeared to be packed to its 2500 capacity.

Inside, where Mr. Rubell was pointing out yet another combination of mirrored strobe lights, there were no more than a few hundred viewers to appreciate them.

“I think we have a winner,” he said.

excerpt from Robert McG. Thomas Jr NYT 4/27/77

Tuesday, April 26, 1977

Jury Indicts Youth in Rape and Killing In Garment Center

An 18 year old Queens youth has been indicted in the murder and rape of a Brooklyn woman who was with months pregnant and whom he allegedly choked and forced into a furnace, asphyxiating her, DA Robert Morgenthau of Manhattan announced yesterday.

Investigators believe that Mr. Hontoria became angry when Mrs. Brecher rang insistently for the elevator while he was in the basement fixing himself a cheese sandwich.

excerpt from Leslie Maitland NYT April 26th 1977

Thursday, April 21, 1977

.44-Caliber Death Bullets Called an “Outside” Purchase

The gun is described as a Bulldog .44, a powerful, short-range .44 caliber revolver. Originally designed for police use, it has a four-inch barrel making it concealable in a pocket or under a coat or jacket. The gun is traditionally sold in the South, Southwest and West.

Excerpt from Molly Ivans April 21, 1977 New York Times

Tuesday, April 19, 1977

Police Officer Ryan Is Convicted of Killing a Suspect in Custody

A police officer was convicted yesterday of criminally negligent homicide in the beating death of a suspect in a South Bronx station house, the first conviction on record in a slaying by an on-duty New York City police officer.

The defendant, Officer Thomas Ryan, faces up to four years in prison on the conviction, which carries the lightest penalty of four possible verdicts by the jury, short of acquittal.

The Ryan case, in which the officer is white and the suspect was Puerto Rican, was one of a number in recent years to raise the issue of alleged fatal police brutality by white officers against black or Hispanic people, and the first of those to result in a conviction.

In 1974, Officer Thomas J. Shea was acquitted by an all-white jury in the death of a 10-year-old black boy, Clifford Glover, after testifying that he thought the boy had a gun. The acquittal stirred a public outcry and a night of street disturbances in the dead boy’s community in Jamica, Queens. Office Shea was eventually dismissed from the Police Department.

Officer Shea was only the second officer to be tried for murder committed while on duty. In 1924, Robert F McAllister was acquitted of charges that he shot and killed 24-year-old Vincent Fighera near 115th Street and Morningside Avenue.

Another officer was acquitted last February, also by an all-white jury, in the fatal shooting of John Brabham, a 22-year-old black man who was a student at Kingsborough Community College. Officer Walker, too, testified that he though his victim had a gun, but other officers testified that Officer Walker customarily kept a hand a cap pistol similar to one found near Mr. Grabham’s body.

Officers Shea, Walker and Ryan were all represented by the same lawyer.

In the most recent incident, Officer Robert Torsney is awaiting tryial for the murder of 15-year-old Randolph Evans, a black youth who was shot to death at point blank range outside his Brooklyn home last Thanksgiving night. No physical confrontation or verbal exchange has been suggested in eyewitness accounts by police officers or civilians.

In Officer Ryan’s trial several officers said that they had previously lied under oath to protect a fellow officer. Officer Ryan insisted from the witness stand that it was two of the officers who testified against him who had administered the fatal blows. In all, seven officers testified against Officer Ryan during the trial. All seven admitted having lied in earlier statements about the incident.

NYT Judith Cummings 4/19/77

Monday, April 18, 1977


A note left behind by a psychopathic killer who struck again this weekend, murdering a young woman and her boyfriend, is rambling and “incoherent,” police sources said. But they indicated that the note seems to confirm links between the killer and a series of previous .44-caliber gun slayings.

They believe the same man is responsible for five murders and three other shootings in Queens and The Bronx, all done with a .44 caliber gun and involving young women with shoulder-length brown hair.

The shootings: a TV parallel

Two of the shootings by the psychopathic gunman stalking The Bronx and Queens came after two episodes of ABC TV’s Starsky and Hutch depicted women being gunned down in similar circumstances. But investigators believe the attacks were “merely coincidental” and dismiss the possibility the TV program was triggering the killer. The first episode in question aired last July 28 (the night before Donna Laurie was killed –

Excerpt from Al Sostchen April 18, 1977 New York Post

Friday, April 15, 1977

Cultist Who Tried for 60 Days in 76 To Revive Follower Jumps to Death

Oric Bovar, the cult leader who was arrested Dec. 8th when he was found trying to revive a follower who had been dead two months, jumped to his death yesterday morning shortly before he was to appear in court on a charge of failing to report a death.

The 59-year-old mystic and astrologer jumped from his 10th-floor apartment at 817 West End Avenue , at 100th Street, leaving a note, the police said. Mr. Bovar was arrested in December with five of his followers who had been praying over the dead member’s body. Mr. Davis said he knew of no basis for reports that Mr. Bovar had asserted that he could jump out of a window and come back without falling.

Mr. Bovar and his friends were arrested in the apartment of Alexandros Hatzitheodorou, 29, at 60 Riverside Drive, at 76th Street. Mr. H had been dead since Oct 9th, the police said, and the group maintained a constant prayer vigil in the expectation that he would revive. Mr. Bovar at one time had 200 followers, including well-known entertainment personalities Bernadette Peters and Carol Burnett have acknowledged knowing Mr. Bovar but they said they had broken off contact with him.

A man of compelling presence to many, Mr. Bovar was said to have undergone a personality change – an emotional breakdown, according to some – about two years ago. When he began telling followers he was Jesus Christ and when he began his attempt at resurrecting Mr. H, some followers left.

The bizarre story of Von Mierers, whose death last year from AIDS spared him a likely prison sentence, brings to mid the even weirder story of Bernadette Peters's guru. In the seventies, Oric Bovar, who was renowned in Broadway circles for his uncannily accurate astrological charts and prescribed meditations that brought inner peace to such disciples as Peters, Carol Burnett, the ever-seeking Marsha Mason, and Neil Simon, became convinced that he was Jesus Christ and claimed that he could endure a year without going to the bathroom. One follower became convinced that Bovar was indeed divine when, during their first telephone conversation, he received an electric shock. On Christmas Eve 1975, Bovar instructed his followers to look up at the sky, and they saw him create a star.
As Bovar went bonkers, some of his followers dropped off, but not Peters. In the summer of 1976, he announced that Christmas would now be celebrated on his birthday, August 29. He began arranging marriages for his devotees--"Someone would come into the room and he would say, 'This is your husband--you must marry him,'" one recalls--and spent his free time watching The Exorcist. He put his followers on strict diets and forbade them to have sex.
Bovar's greatest feat was to have been the resurrection of twenty-nine-year-old Stephanos Hatzitheodorou, a disciple who died of cancer in his New York apartment in the fall of '76. After covering the body with a shawl, Bovar and five disciples kept a vigil over the corpse, chanting, "Rise, Stephan, rise, rise, rise." It was only then that Peters, whom the New York Times called one of Bovar's most loyal devotees, jumped ship. For two months, the group changed over the body, until a woman who identified herself as Mary Magdalene called the cops. His arrest for violating the health code by keeping a decaying corpse in the apartment marked the beginning of the end for Bovar, who was now referring to himself as "my son, Oric Bovar." Hours before he was to answer his doubters, he jumped out a window, intending to appear in resurrected glory in court.

Farnsworth Fowle April 15, 1977 New York Times

Thursday, April 14, 1977

Gun Group Offers a $200 Reward To Victims Who Kill Assailants

A federation of 135 pistol and rifle clubs in New York with 5000 members is offering $200 to any victim of a robbery or assault who shoots and kills his attacker, the president of the organization said last night.

“The object, obviously, is to encourage citizens who are properly licensed to carry firearms to defend themselves because of the complete breakdown of the criminal justice system in New York,” said Jerry Preiser the 42-year-old president of the Federation of Greater New York Pistol and Rifle Clubs.

Mr. Preiser, a manufacturer of girls clothing who carries a .45 automatic, said three businessmen who had killed assailants in the city in the last week would receive checks for $200 and scrolls of commendation at a ceremony Friday afternoon at 2 Penn Plaza.

Police Commissioner Michael J Codd said he was “appalled.” “These people are looking for trouble,” he said.

“This is dangerous to the people who are doing the shooting and dangerous to bystanders,” he continued. “Our experience has shown that untrained civilians lose half the gun battles they get into.”

“I don’t think people are going to be running out to qualify for the reward. I don’t see people running to shoot somebody for $200. What I’m trying to do is encourage the right to self-defense.”

The situation is New York these days, Mr. Prieser said boils down to three choices for the law-abiding citizen.

“You can abandon the city to the hoodlums,” he said. “You can abjectly accept the assault or death, hoping things will get better, or, the choice which we think is the best choice, you can recognize the fact that this is war – call it what it is, “war” – and fight back.

Joseph Treaster NYT 4/14/77

Two Seized as Peddlers of “Walking” Explosives And Other Deadly Item

Two brothers who allegedly offered to sell an undercover Federal agent bombs that “walked,” pens that fired a .25-caliber bullet and other esoteric weapons were arraigned in Federal District Court in Brooklyn. Treasury Department agents said they arrested the two Tuesday night after the brothers had offered to show how well their devices worked by blowing up any parked car outside a bar where the negotiations were taking place.

The agent said he had bought four of the pen guns- which looked more like tire pressure gauges – from the two men for $25 apiece. “They offered them in 100 lots,” he said.

As for the bombs that worked the way moving toys do, a police check yesterday found them to be low-order devices containing shrapnel that could seriously injure anyone close by.

The brothers also were accused of offering for sale small containers, like packages of cigarettes that fired a bullet as well as small bombs equipped with magnets for affixing to an automobile. These, they said, would go off with any sudden movement of the automobile.

Excerpt from April 14, 1977

Tuesday, April 12, 1977

City Warned on Stray Dogs

Unwanted pets abandoned in the streets, have put the city “on the brink of an animal disaster,” the ASPCA warned today.

Duncan Wright, director of the ASPCA said that there are now an extimated 400,000 stray dogs in the city and an inestimable number of cats and that the animal population is increasing dramatically.

Excerpt from New York Post E Newton 4/12/77

Sunday, April 10, 1977

Pregnant Woman, One of 3 Slain, Was Attacked Before Her Murder

An autopsy completed yesterday disclosed that a woman eight months pregnant-one of the three found stabbed to death Friday night in a Brooklyn apartment-had been sexually attacked just before the murder.

The pregnant 19-year-old woman was rushed to Kings County Hospital, where doctors performed a caesarean section in a vain attempt to save the life of the unborn baby, a girl. The mother’s wounds caused the infant’s death, they said.

The young mother and two older women had been peacefully packing used clothing for shipment (and sale) to their native Dominican Republic when they were interrupted and were repeatedly stabbed fatally in the ground floor apartment at 277 Graton Street.

excerpt NYT Emanuel Perlmutter 4/10/77

Saturday, April 09, 1977

Anti-Roach Weapon: The Lizard

Like Thousands of New Yorkers, Wendy Fuller, Mariene Matarese and Lawrence Goldstein had to share their two-room Greenwich Village apartment with battalions of cockroaches. All kinds of chemical sprays seemed to have little effect, except on the roommates. “The fumes were so bad we had to leave the apartment ourselves. But it didn’t seem to bother the roaches.” The three college roommates turned in desperation to a bug-control device well-known to southeast Asians, but little appreciated in urban America – the bought a Tokay Gecko, a foot long lizard with beady chartreuse eyes, garish orange polka dots and a voracious appetite for insects. The roommates paid $10 for “Geeko.” “We had so many cockroaches the kitchen sink was black at night. There were hundreds and hundreds of them. We had such a gene pool of roaches here that we were getting mutations. We had albino roaches.” “It took 3 months but Geeko finally got the population down to very manageable proportions. We used to hear him crunching them at night. I wanted to get about four more Geekos but we were afraid we’d end up with baby lizards.

Excerpt from April 9th 1977 NYT

A nocturnal creature, it can, like many lizards, change somewhat, but it always looks more or less like a cheap gaudy necktie.

A Shop Owner Shoots 2 Robbers, 1 Fatally, In Attempted Holdup

A clothing store owner shot two robbers – killing one – after they critically wounded his 65-year-old mother in a robbery attempt yesterday. One of the robbers staggered out and died in front of the store, Martin Berk Clothing at 3492 Broadway, near 142nd Street. He was identified by police as Vernon Jackson, 26, of 509 W 144th Street. The other, John May, 26, of 552 W 144th Street was taken to Logan Hospital in critical condition with a neck wound. Both were wearing blue security uniforms.

Mr Jackson had entered saying he wanted money and pointed his gun at Mr Atlas’ mother, Mabel Berk, who was seated behind the cash register. Mr Atlas then reached under the counter for his new, licensed .38 caliber pistol and fired one shot at Mr Jackson’s head just as Mr Jackson fired a bullet into the face of Mrs. Berk.

It was the third time in the last three months that the clothing store had been robbed. One of the police officers at the scene yesterday said he had been shot at during a robbery there on Feb 24th by a robber using a .38-caliber pistol that, it turned out later, had been stolen from the Berk store just a week earlier.

Vernon Jackson had been a good employee for DKD Security Company, but had left 5 months earlier after working there for a year.

excerpt April 9 1977 David Bird NYT

Friday, April 08, 1977

Reggie: love at first sight

Suddenly, the chant began. “Reg-gie, Reg-gie, Reg-gie,” they called, the name reverberating through a stadium that once chanted for The Babe, Joe D and Mickey. We all knew it, but this Opening Day, 1977, was just the final reminder: is there any other place in baseball for the likes of Reggie Jackson?”

Reggie did nothing spectacular yesterday as the Yankees shit out the Brewers 3-0 before 43,785. He had two singles, scored two runs, dove head-first into third base, dived for a fly-ball double and scored with a cloud of dust in a fadeaway slide on a suicide squeeze.

But man, he was there, Reggie Jackson, No 44, the hottest dog in baseball, the superstar of charisma, excitement, joy, suspense, energy, flamboyance, a home-run hitter finally playing in the ballpark where The Home Run was invented.

The Yankees will be an exciting team, an excited team, a team that will play before noisy crowds all year. And Jackson, of course is the biggest noise. Maybe not the best player, but the one who will draw the loudest cheers, the loudest oohs, the loudest boos. He’s spent his career in Oakland and Baltimore, ghost towns, and that is a terrible thing to happen to a man who craves love and approval from his audience. Yankees stadium could be an orgy for the man.

“Man that turns on your adrenaline button,” Reggie said, talking about the chants he heard when he led off the eighth inning. “I never had that happen before like it did today. It makes you smile inside. It makes you feel good. It makes you feel secure, wanted, loved, liked, confident. They’re saying, ‘Come on man; hit one out for us; finish off our day.’ I’da loved to hit one. It wasn’t cause I wasn’t trying.”

NYT Hecht 4/8/77

Thursday, April 07, 1977

Jungle Habitat Buries All But Two Animals

All but two of the dead animals that have been lying above ground for weeks at Jungle Habitat here (West Milford NJ) were buried in mountaintop pits today under the supervision of local sanitary inspectors. The 28 decaying carcasses included the dismembered remains of an elephant, a camel, a bison, and a ram, were buried beneath at least four feet of dirt as required by State and Federal regulations. The only two animals left unburied were two zebras set aside for autopsies. According to one local health official who had spoken to workmen in the now-defunct drive through zoo, some of the animals had remained unburied since shortly after the preserve was closed permanently last October because of poor attendance.

Excerpt from The New York Times 4/7/77

Wednesday, April 06, 1977

“Cannibalizing” of Stolen Autos on Rise in Queens

There has been a steady increase in auto thefts in Queens, particularly in Forest Hills. In 1976 there were 27,358 auto thefts in the borough compared with 23, 808 the year before. About one quarter of all cars stolen in the city every year disappear in Queens.

excerpt from Murray Schumach NYT April 6 1977

Low Risk, High Return Help Make Car Stealing a Rapid-Growth Venture

“Chances are better than average that if you are the happy owner of a new Mercedes 450, a Cadillac Seville, a Lincoln Continental, or the very latest in low-slung Jaguars, your automobile will be stolen soon.” Fred Ferretti NYT 2/14/77* A million cars are stolen in the United States each year-10 percent of them, valued at $163 million – in New York City. Every day 200 to 300 cars are stolen in the city. Fewer than half of these are recovered. New Yorkers are famous for commuting primarily by public transportation while the rest of the country commutes primarily by car. Here’s another reason why. Even if you prefer to drive you won’t be doing it for long. Your car will be stolen. And then there are those who can make a car disappear by request. Perhaps the owner of a new car has an accident. Rather than go through an insurance claim procedure – hire someone to drive the car into the East River, a prime dumping area. Sergeant Martorano estimates that as many as 200 cars are beneath the Queensboro Bridge. The Auto Squad suggest that “cars be locked and keys removed.”

excerpt from NYT 4/6/77

Tuesday, April 05, 1977

“Dognappers” Win Their Ransom By Preying on Owners’ Emotions

When Marilyn Farmer went into her local delicatessen a few weeks ago, she left her dog, as usual, waiting outside. A few minutes later the dog had vanished.

Four days and three sleepless nights after losing the animal after putting notices up and advertisements in newspapers, Miss Farmer (that is not her real name) got a phone call from a woman who said she had seen the advertisements and had found the dog. The woman called Miss Farmer 5 times over a period of 8 hours, each time saying she was not sure if she would give the dog back. Each time she asked Miss Farmer how much she would pay to get her dog back.

Many stolen dogs end up in the Pelham Park area in the Bronx. Robert Davison, who is in the boat-restoration business on City Island collects dogs from the park and usually keeps about 10 at a time hoping to find their owners. “There are about 15 to 20 dogs in that park now and I’ve seen it go as high as 50. “Thieves try to make contact with the owner but for some reason – maybe the owner is too cagey – the thief gets scared and wants to get rid of the dog. He either throws the dog over the bridge or dumps it in that park.”

“Offer a reward, but don’t say how much. If you offer $500, the thief won’t take less. If you don’t specify how much the thief will usually take as little as $50, since he wants to get rid of the dog.”

Excerpt from NYT 4/5/77

Monday, April 04, 1977

Patrons Take Wing as Cockfight Is Raided in the Bronx

A raid on a cockfight at a crowded after-hours social club in the Bronx was reduced by authorities to a flight of customers and a flapping of wings early yesterday when a stake-out policeman apparently was recognized. Most of the 300 patrons disappeared before the police moved in and 25 birds vanished along with them. A bartender apparently recognized the policeman and gave the signal. The signal apparently sent patrons scurrying from a backroom, stuffing squawking birds with fluttering wings into sacks and cages. Before the police arrived, most patrons had burst through a rear wall with a sledgehammer and had made their escape.

Making the raid were an agent from the ASPCA and a plainclothes policeman for the 41st Precinct (Fort Apache) in the South Bronx. The club was the El Santurce Social Club at 785 Webster Avenue.

“There are a lot of Puerto Ricans and Hispanics who would like to see cockfighting legalized,” Assemblyman Armando Montano of the South Bronx said recently. Last month Mr. Montano introduced legislation for the seventh consecutive year to legalize cockfighting. Almost routinely, it was sent to the Assembly Agriculture Committee were it will likely remain for the rest of the session.

Excerpt from The New York Times 4/4/77

Saturday, April 02, 1977

Unemployment Rate Fell to 7.3% in March as Cold Wave Eased

Unemployment declined in March as workers who were laid off in the winter because of severe cold and fuel shortages returned to work the Labor Department announced today.

However not all sectors of the workforce shared in the improvement. Unemployment among teenagers rose for the month to 19% which was close to peak recession levels. The jobless rate among teenaged black workers increased by about 3 percent and reached 40 percent.

excerpt from 4/2/77 NYT Philip Shabecoff