New York scandals: A brief guide to notorious NYC crimes

Check out a brief timeline of Gotham’s dehumanizing, money-grubbing, brutal and downright sick past.

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New York’s history is long, colorful and, inevitably, chock-full of creepy, somewhat icky true-crime anecdotes. Here, Time Out New York has compiled some of the city’s lesser-known—but no less abhorrent—scandals, including the death of a scuzzy punk rocker, a mob hit gone bad and a dark spot in the Bronx Zoo's past.


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  • New York scandals: A brief guide to notorious NYC crimes

    1906: Human exhibited in the Bronx Zoo
    A 23-year-old Congolese pygmy named Ota Benga is billed as an attraction in the zoo’s Monkey House. Ten years later, Benga takes his own life.

  • New York scandals: A brief guide to notorious NYC crimes

    1951: New York college basketball sells out  
    Three players for the City College of New York Beavers are arrested on charges of point-shaving. Four of the seven schools eventually indicted in the scandal are in New York.

  • New York scandals: A brief guide to notorious NYC crimes

    1970: Hard Hat Riot
    Four days after the Kent State shootings, protestors gather to memorialize the dead students. An opposing group of construction workers attacks the crowd with their hard hats, injuring dozens.

  • New York scandals: A brief guide to notorious NYC crimes

    1972: Accidental mob hit on the UES
    To avenge the murder of “Crazy Joe” Gallo, pictured, a gunman is hired to take out four members of the Colombo family, but mistakenly shoots four innocent bystanders instead.

  • New York scandals: A brief guide to notorious NYC crimes

    1989: Butcher of Tompkins Square Park  
    Alphabet City oddball Daniel Rakowitz tells locals that he cut up his live-in girlfriend, boiled her remains and served them as soup. A jury acquits him by reason of insanity.

  • New York scandals: A brief guide to notorious NYC crimes

    1993: GG Allin, RIP
    Fans follow shock-rocker GG Allin from a gig at the Gas Station to a friend’s pad, where he fatally overdoses on heroin. Party guests take photos next to what they assume to be his passed-out body.

  • New York scandals: A brief guide to notorious NYC crimes

    1997: Fordham student goes missing   
    The remains of Patrick McNeill are discovered off the shore of Bay Ridge; in 2008, two retired NYPD detectives theorize that he was the victim of a serial-killing spree dubbed “the Smiley Face Murders.”

New York scandals: A brief guide to notorious NYC crimes

1906: Human exhibited in the Bronx Zoo
A 23-year-old Congolese pygmy named Ota Benga is billed as an attraction in the zoo’s Monkey House. Ten years later, Benga takes his own life.


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