The Anatomy of a Homicide Investigation

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Why you should care

Because peaceful deaths can’t be overrated. 

Manhattan South Homicide Detective Bill McNeely is central casting all the way. Tall, handsome and dressed to the nines, McNeely looks like Robert Redford in his prime, with some notable variations, mostly a pronounced preference for sidearms and the blood and guts that are an inevitable part of police work. The son of a detective, McNeely is a gold-shield detective, a shield appointed by the commissioner, and that’s closely akin to having your Ph.D. in Cop.

His first case? It’s also one of his most noteworthy ones: the Carnegie Deli Murders. And with the famed deli scheduled to close come the end of the year we take a good look back at one of its least pleasant chapters.

Carved in cordite, the shooting of five film-theater-artist types on May 10, 2001 — three succumbed to their injuries — was not a typical crime. The victims were distinctively atypical, including an actress who had a role in Dirty Dancing, among other films. Sitting at the nexus of almost-celebrity, gore and wrong-time-very-wrong place, the Carnegie Deli Murders, so-called because they occurred in the apartments sitting above New York’s famous restaurant, was McNeely’s trial by fire. OZY’s editor-at-large Eugene S. Robinson wanders through the flames with one of New York’s finest.

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