Working at daily newspaper The New York Post (NYP) means that journalists cover stories ranging from celebrity gossip, to current affairs and even sickening crime scenes in the city. A murder scene isn’t something you can keep to yourself – going to a spot where a person was gunned down stains your memory like the victim’s blood stains the street tar where it oozed out. And it’s that morbid scenery that viewers clamour to see because it’s out of the ordinary, it’s a grotesque curiosity that drags you in.
If that’s your TV fix, the NYP journalists have you sorted, counting down some of the most-talked about and freakiest crimes they’ve written about for reality series Torn From The Headlines: New York Post Reports.
From a woman whose corpse was found on a sidewalk covered in a blanket, to a millionaire who was murdered by his estranged wife, the newspaper’s writers, investigators and editors detail the unsettling crimes that are also re-enacted during the show.
In episode 2 we find out what happened when mega-bucks tuxedo maker Harvey Weinstein aka The Tuxedo King (NOT the rapist movie producer of the same name from the #MeTooMovement) was held hostage at a restaurant parking lot in 1993. For his safe return, the kidnappers, called the Black Cat Organisation, demanded a $3 million ransom. Harvey’s loved ones immediately involved the police, but while the cops were discreet, a journalist from New York Post learnt about the kidnapping – he vowed not to publish any story until Harvey was found.
After some digging, the police discovered that Harvey’s employee, Lord West, was responsible for the kidnapping. West learnt that Harvey was about to receive a bank loan, and he wanted all the money to himself. Only in the bustling city of New York would an employee reveal that he buried his boss alive in a hole for a pay-out. The police rushed to rescue The Tuxedo King after West spilled the truth. “People were fascinated that a rich person could also get buried alive. But here was a nice guy, whose employees loved him,” says executive producer Tim Baney.
Caught on camera
It was a normal day for an abduction in 2014 as infamous New York landlord Menachem Stark was grabbed – his story is told in episode 4. The one minute he was running his errands, the next he was dragged out of his office and bundled into a car by a group of rowdy men. Initially it was tricky for the cops to solve the murder case as Menachem had made a lot of enemies on his way to the top, and their suspect list was as long as an NYC city block.
With the help of a surveillance video that caught the kidnapping on tape, the police arrested the culprits. However, it was too late to bring Menachem back home. The most shocking part of this story is that Menachem’s kidnappers had no intention of killing him; they just wanted to scare him so that he would clear his debt with them. Whoops.
A woman scorned
When entrepreneur and real estate investor George Kogan was found dead in front of his apartment in October 1990, the investigators in episode 5 were certain that it wasn’t an accident. He’d left his wife, Barbara, months before to move in with his much-younger mistress, Mary-Louise Hawkins. Although the police suspected that his wife was behind the shooting, which took place as George returned home from doing groceries, Barbara had a solid alibi. So who could it be?
After asking the right people the right questions, the cops were led back to Barbara following her $4 million insurance pay-out. She confessed to hiring hitmen to kill her estranged husband as she was enraged that George no longer wanted her. She was sentenced to 25 years to life behind bars. While this New York woman wanted to get rid of her husband, she was going to get someone to do the dirty work for her.
A fallen soldier
The S1 finale recounts the brutal murder of forensic expert, Michelle Lee, in 2009. She was found dead in her bed with her wrists tied together with her cellphone charger cable. Before bludgeoning Michelle on the head, her killer stabbed her on the neck and left the knife in position. As if that wasn’t enough, they burnt her chest with a steam iron.
What’s interesting was that Michelle had solved a similar murder years earlier with her team at the NYPD. Was this revenge for getting the killers arrested, or was it a coincidence? Her killer turned out to be someone closer to home than expected, and he showed no remorse after he was arrested. “I don’t ask for forgiveness because I don’t deserve it. I will meet my maker one day and receive my punishment,” he said after he was sentenced to 30 years in prison. This case touched the city as Michelle had dedicated her life to putting the bad guys away. Her colleagues were forced to gather themselves and put her killer where he belonged: prison.
Watch Torn From The Headlines: New York Post Reports S1 on Thursdays on Investigation Discovery (DStv 171) at 21:00
How to watch online
Sign up for DStv Now, a free service for all DStv subscribers. With DStv Now the same channels you watch on your decoder at home are available for you to stream online or using the DStv Now app on your phone.