Helen Hagnes, a gifted 31-year-old violinist (left), left her instrument on her chair in the orchestra pit during an intermission at about 9:30 pm.
When the performance resumed, Hagnes’ seat was still empty. After the show, police were called in.
Following an all-night search, Hagnes’ naked body was found inside a six-story air shaft. She’d been tied up, gagged, and thrown from the roof.
As brutal as the crime was, it didn’t take police long to solve what had been dubbed the “Phantom of the Opera” murder.
First, there was the partial palm print found on the roof. And because the knots used to bind her limbs were the same knots used by stagehands, investigators figured the killer was employed by Lincoln Center and knew the opera house’s layout.
That led police to question a 21-year-old stagehand named Craig Crimmins. Eventually, Crimmins confessed: He told cops that he was drunk when he encountered Hagnes in an elevator.
He tried to rape her in a stairwell, and when she resisted, he forced her to the roof and kicked her into the air shaft.”Something snapped in my brain,” he told a judge in 1981, who sentenced him to 20 years to life.
[Top photo: New York Times. Bottom photo: Blehgoaway]