Roseann Quinn: Wikis


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Roseann Quinn (b. 1944 – d. January 2, 1973) was an American schoolteacher whose murder inspired Judith Rossner's 1975 novel Looking for Mr. Goodbar, as well as the 1977 film adaptation directed by Richard Brooks. Her death also inspired the fictionalized 1977 true crime account Closing Time: The True Story of the "Goodbar" Murder by New York Times journalist Lacey Fosburgh.


Life and career

Roseann Quinn, the daughter of John and Roseann Quinn, was born in 1944. Her Irish American family moved to Mine Hill Township, New Jersey, near Dover, New Jersey, from the Bronx when she was 11 years old. John Quinn was an executive with Bell Laboratories in Parsippany, New Jersey. Roseann Quinn had three siblings, two brothers, John and Dennis, and a sister, Donna. Quinn spent a year in the hospital with polio when she was 13, and afterwards walked with a slight limp. She attended Morris Catholic High School in Denville, New Jersey, graduating in 1962. Her yearbook said that she was "Easy to meet ... nice to know".

Quinn enrolled in Newark State Teachers College (now Kean University). A classmate said that she had "a terrific sense of humor and was down to earth. She had no phony pretenses. Also, she was very generous. No matter how much she had, if you needed it, she'd share with you." Quinn graduated in 1966 and soon moved to New York City, teaching for three years in Newark, New Jersey.

In September 1969, she began teaching at St. Joseph's School for the Deaf in the Bronx, where she taught a class of eight eight-year-olds. Many times, she voluntarily stayed after school to help them, other teachers recalled. "The students loved her", a spokesman for the school would later say.

Roseann Quinn's apartment building. (Photo taken 2006)

By May 1972 she had moved to a studio apartment at 253 West 72nd Street. The building had formerly been known as the Hotel West Pierre before being converted to apartments four years earlier. According to her acquaintances and neighbors, Quinn would sit by herself and read at bars on the West Side. One witness would later comment, "Something about her made me want to cry. She could be the most alone-looking person in the world." Police Captain John M. McMahon, however, would later claim that "She was an affable, outgoing, friendly girl. Her friends were rather diverse. She knew teachers and artists and her circle of friends was a very large, interracial group ... [S]he knew an awful lot of people." One friend who would later speak to the media said that she struck up a conversation with him by revealing that she had been reading his lips and listening to a conversation at the other end of the bar that she couldn't otherwise have understood.

Quinn developed a habit of meeting and taking home men who were, as one writer put it, "rough and unattractive... who weren't her social equal, her mental equal, or her equal at anything." Her next-door neighbor would hear screams coming from Quinn's apartment. Once she intervened and saw a man dashing out of Quinn's apartment yelling obscenities and found Quinn disheveled and bruised, with a black eye, sobbing.

"What on earth possessed you to bring him up?", the neighbor asked. Quinn didn't reply. The neighbor tried to console her, saying "It's all over now, at least you'll know better ... [A]fter that it happened a lot," the neighbor said. "Every two weeks or so... It always sounded like a fight. I guess it was some kind of rough sex. Some people get off on that and she must have had to be raped or kicked around or something to feel any excitement or thrill. But what could we do?"

Quinn had been attending night courses at Hunter College, and by December 1972 had completed about half of her work towards her masters degree in her specialty of teaching the deaf. Later that month she attended the faculty Christmas party at St. Joseph's School and a party for the children the next day. "She was a friendly, pleasing personality, not only with the children, but also with the other teachers," a school spokesperson later said.

The murder

The All State Cafe (formerly Tweeds) across the street from Roseann Quinn's apartment building, where she met her killer. (Photo taken 2006)

On the evening of New Year's Day, 1973, Quinn went across the street from her apartment to a bar named W. M. Tweeds, where she met John Wayne Wilson and a stock broker, Danny Murray, with whom Wilson was staying. After Murray left around 11:00, Wilson and Quinn went to her apartment, where they smoked marijuana and attempted to have intercourse but, as Wilson would later tell his attorney, he was unable to achieve an erection. She reportedly insulted his manhood and demanded that he leave her apartment and an argument ensued. After a struggle, Wilson picked up a knife and, according to his police statement, Quinn said to him, "Kill me, kill me please." He stabbed her 18 times in the neck and abdomen, then, finding that during the struggle he had somehow managed to achieve an erection, proceeded to rape her corpse. After inserting a candle into her vagina and smashing a bust of Quinn against her head, he covered her with a bathrobe, showered, and left the apartment. But before he left he wiped his fingerprints off the murder weapon, the door knobs and any other surface he might have touched, effectively sanitizing the crime scene. In a grisly piece of luck, the killer had been nude at the time of the murder. Later that night Wilson confessed the crime to Murray, who (thinking Wilson was making this all up just to get a plane ticket home) gave him enough money to leave town. Wilson first flew to Miami to pick up his wife and they later flew to Indiana.

The body was not discovered until the morning of January 3, when the authorities at St. Joseph's School, alarmed that she had not shown up for work in two days, sent a teacher down to her apartment to check up on her. The building's superintendent, Amedio Gizzi, let the teacher into the apartment, where they found Quinn's body, which was later identified at the morgue by her 25-year-old brother, John.


Roseann Quinn's wake was held at Bermingham Funeral Home at 249 S. Main Street, Wharton, New Jersey, and her funeral was held at St. Mary's Church in Wharton, only a mile away from her family's home in Mine Hill, on January 6, 1973. The Funeral Mass was celebrated by Quinn's cousin, the Rev. John Waldron of St. Teresa of Avila Church in Brooklyn. She was buried at St. Mary's Cemetery, a quarter of a mile from the church.

Investigation and Aftermath

In the days before DNA evidence, there wasn't much to connect Quinn and her killer. No one at Tweeds knew the identity of the man she left with or could say what he looked like, and the crime scene had been effectively sanitized. Desperate to crack a case that had been on the front pages for days, the NYPD released a police sketch that ran in several New York newspapers on Sunday, January 7, 1973. The sketch was not of the killer, but of the accountant, Danny Murray who had been at the bar that night and had left early.

Murray was still not sure Wilson had actually committed the murder until he saw her name in the newspaper article. Fearing he might be charged as an accessory after the fact, Murray's first calls were to his friends Fred Ebb & Gary Greenwood, Ebb's "personal assistant". Murray told Ebb and Greenwood that he couldn't tell them about what had happened on the phone, but it was the worst thing anyone could be involved with. He then stated he was coming to California and hung up. He arrived at Ebb's Bel-Air, Los Angeles, California home the next day; there, he told Ebb and Greenwood about Wilson and the murder. Murray said he had been out with Wilson and had left early because he had to go to work in the morning. He said he woke up and Wilson had not returned to the apartment and Murray was worried. Murray went looking for Wilson and could not find him so he returned home.

Wilson was sitting in the dark when Murray arrived back at the apartment. Wilson told Murray that he wanted to leave New York, but had no money. Wilson then told Murray that he had met a woman name Roseann Quinn and had gone back to her apartment to make love. He was too drunk to perform, and he claimed she made fun of his manhood, which angered him, and he hit in her in the head. After the blow, Wilson thought she was deceased. Murray initially thought Wilson made up the whole story because he wanted plane fare to go home; he bought Wilson the plane ticket. Wilson flew to Florida and picked up his wife, then flew back to Indiana.

Ebb called Murray's therapist Hadassah in New York; she said she would contact an attorney and call him back ASAP. Shortly thereafter, she and the attorney called back; the attorney advised Ebb to put Murray on the first plane back to New York City. He also advised Ebb and Greenwood not to say a word about what Murray had told them. In mid-March, Ebb and Greenwood flew to New York City. It took more than two weeks to convince Murray to talk to the police, as Murray agonized over the fact that his information could send his friend Wilson to the electric chair. Murray's lawyer contacted the police and got Murray immunity in exchange for Wilson’s whereabouts.

NYPD Detectives Patrick Toomey and John Lafferty of New York's Fourth District Homicide Squad flew to Indiana, where, accompanied by Indianapolis Police Sgt. H. Greg Byrne, they arrested Wilson at his mother's house in Indianapolis. "He offered no resistance, and acted as though he had expected arrest," police sources said. Wilson was brought back to New York and incarcerated in The Tombs.

After spending some weeks in The Tombs, Wilson was sent to Bellevue Hospital Center on April 19 to test for childhood brain damage that his attorney planned to claim as part of an insanity defense. Wilson stayed at Bellevue for several weeks, but the tests were never administered, and he was eventually returned to The Tombs. Though he had been diagnosed as suicidal, the cells for the suicide watch were full, so Wilson was placed in a regular cell on the fourth floor. In May, Wilson got into an argument with a prison guard and threatened to kill himself. The guard taunted him by asking if he wanted sheets to do it with and later threw bed sheets into his cell. Wilson used those sheets to hang himself on May 5, 1973. What action, if any, was taken against the guard is unknown. Wilson outlived his victim by 123 days.

An investigation was held into the circumstances of Wilson's death, but no charges were ever filed. Murray felt he bore the blame for Wilson's suicide, and had a black-out. Ten days later, Ebb and Greenwood received a call from a mental institution just outside Phoenix, Arizona. Murray had flown to Phoenix and checked himself in as a John Doe. Shortly after Murray returned to New York City, the prosecuting attorney supposedly told him that if the case had gone to trial and Wilson wasn't convicted, murder charges would have been brought against Murray, though he was innocent.

Murray died of smoke inhalation from a fire in his 71st St. & West End apartment. Fred Ebb died in his Central Park West apartment in The San Remo on September 11, 2004. Gary Greenwood is living in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


  • Cotter, Joseph H. (January 4, 1973). Woman Teacher, 28, Slain on West Side. New York Post.
  • Kaufman, Michael T. (January 5, 1973). Teacher, 28, Is Slain in Her Apartment: Other Violence Recalled. New York Times.
  • Staff report (January 5, 1973). Teacher Victim Of Sex Slaying: Battered With Statue of Self. New York Daily News
  • Randazzo, John and Lee, Henry (January 5, 1973). Young Teacher Slain in West Side Flat. New York Daily News
  • Burton, Anthony (January 5, 1973). She Heard Pleas of the Deaf New York Daily News
  • Levin, Jay and Feurey (January 5, 1973). Hunt Last Date of Slain Teacher. New York Post
  • McCarthy, Philip and Lee, Henry (January 6, 1973). Cops Hunt Beau in Roseann's Killing. New York Daily News
  • Levin, Jay (January 6, 1973). Roseann Sketch Readied. New York Post.
  • Capeci, Jerry and Moran, Sheila (January 6, 1973). Roseann's Circle Gathers and Grieves. New York Post.
  • McCarthy, Philip and Lee, Henry (January 7, 1973). Cops Sketch a Link to Roseann Slaying New York Daily News
  • Staff Report (January 8, 1973). Slain Teacher: Door-to-Door Search Begins. New York Daily News
  • Pearl, Mike and Norman, James (January 9, 1973). Cops Nab Suspect In Teacher Slaying. New York Post.
  • Faso, Frank and Lee, Henry (January 10, 1973). Drifter Seized in Slaying of Roseann New York Daily News
  • Faso, Frank and Lee, Henry (January 11, 1973). Arraign Roseann Killing Suspect, Test His Sanity New York Daily News
  • Greenwood,Gary (1973) Personal Friend of Geary Guest. Personal Assistant to Fred Ebb
  • Knight, Michael (May 6, 1973). Suspect in Killing of a Teacher On West Side Hangs Himself. New York Times
  • Rinzler, Carol Eisen (June 8, 1975). Looking for Mr. Goodbar (book review). New York Times
  • Rossner, Judith (1977). Looking for Mr. Goodbar. Washington Square Press: ISBN 0-671-01901-5
  • Fosburgh, Lacey (1977). Closing Time: The True Story of the "Goodbar" Murder. ISBN 0-440-01371-2

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