A drama student left to die on a West Side roof

CarolineisenbergJust as so many other young adults have done, Caroline Isenberg (right), 23, came to the city to be an actress.

A Harvard grad who scored a small role in a TV movie during college, Isenberg enrolled in drama school and moved into an apartment at 929 West End Avenue, near 106th Street.

Today this Morningside Heights neighborhood looks safe. But in 1984, when she signed a lease, it had rougher edges. Reportedly, the building’s front door lock was frequently broken.

Early in the morning on December 2, 1984, Isenberg returned home by herself after seeing a Broadway play.

929westendavenueAs she entered her building, someone accosted her, forced her into the elevator, and took her to the roof, cops later determined.

There, she resisted her attacker’s sexual advances and robbery attempt and was stabbed nine times.

Her assailant locked the rooftop door and fled, leaving her dying on the rooftop and screaming for help.

“Her cries awakened the neighborhood and neighbors rushed to help her,” The New York Times reported.

Isenberg was brought to St. Luke’s Hospital. Remarkably, she was able to talk to police officers and doctors and give a quick description of her attacker before her life ended on the operating table hours later.

Emmanueltorresapphoto“All this for $12,” she told the doctors trying to save her. “I should have given him the money. I should have let him do it.”

It didn’t take long for police to arrest Emmanuel Torres (right), son of the building’s super.

Detectives reportedly said that Torres, 22, didn’t target Isenberg. But he’d planned to mug someone—and that mugging escalated into attempted rape, then murder.

Found guilty of murder in 1985, he was sentenced to life in prison.

Isenberg’s murder was big news at the time, and it prompted the 1980s band The Alarm to pen a (pretty terrible) song about her.

[Bottom photo: AP]

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14 Responses to “A drama student left to die on a West Side roof”

  1. thomas guariano Says:

    If this low lif scum-bag is still living i hope he has cancer or any other longterm painfull diseasenand dies rotts and his sould is in hell suffering some more Tommy Guariano

  2. Bookpod Says:

    Some crimes become a kind of seminal moment in your life, and this is what Caroline Isenberg’s murder was for me, and for many other young women living in NYC at the time. Indeed, I try to be vigilant even today when getting into an elevator alone.

    The same year, when I was living in Inwood, a nurse on my block was murdered as she was getting into her car. I used to pass the lot every day where her car sat draped in a fitted canvas sheet. The killer was never found. Whenever I get into my car early in the morning, I remember . . .

  3. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Terrible. I was surprised that none of the archived newspaper articles I looked at covering the aftermath of the murder focused on beefing up security or pushing for the police to do more to prevent serious crime. It was almost as if at the time, it was just accepted that these robbery-gone-wrong murders were going to happen. We have a different mindset about crime now, I think.

    • thomas guariano Says:

      Well my mind set is tht if anyone ever came even close to doing that to any of my three daughters there would never be a place that would be safe enough for him to his like a cockaroach that he was or possibly still is and i do mean never he would beg for the police to find him because the punishment i
      and “FAMILY” would adminsiter to him would be swift and deadly at no cost to the tax payers and if the ACLU ever interefered the same justice would be delt to them this i promise TG

      • Mark Duff Says:

        TG – If I was a witness to your Family’s payback the only thing I would tell the cops was that the POS slipped on a bar of soap….not a damn thing more.

      • thomas guariano Says:

        You’re smart

    • Tom B Says:

      I thought Mayor Rudi was trying fix the problem, but was condemned by the media and progressives as a fascist nazi.

      • Gimelgort Says:

        While the idea of a facist nazi (?) is certainly provocative, could we please save our political sentiments for a more appropriate forum? One of the best things about this site is the (generally)interesting and informative comments, as they pertain to the subject at hand, and not to anyone’s particular worldview.

  4. therealguyfaux Says:

    Manny Torres was a young man from the Marble Hill Projects who apparently went bad as a result of the influence of his criminal older brother; he seemed to have been, by all accounts, one of those “I can’t believe he’s the kind of kid who’d have done this” sorts till his brother involved him in what amounted to a gang fight. His life went downhill from there in a hurry (drugs, petty crime). I lived in the nearby Kingsbridge neighborhood at the time, and knew people who knew him. Not to excuse him by any means– he got what he deserved, for what he did, 25 years to life for felony murder– but one wonders why some kids just go bad and others don’t, and why some who are just plain bad to start with, like his brother, can have such influence over a kid who, it seems, was weak-minded and lacking in character enough to be influenced.

    • thomas guariano Says:

      Well i know people who had tough young lives,abused and not loved, but you know what? They were fortunate enough to be able to make up their own minds, and follow the right path, thus growing into a respectable member of the Comunity..It would be nice if that worked out for all who have this problem of peer pressure, so my advise to all those youngsters who fall ino this group try and think positive and follow the good guys, leave the bad ones behind in their misery. Good Luck and God Bless Tommy G

  5. Gimelgort Says:

    Has this really become a forum for people to threaten ACLU members with death? Bummer.

  6. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Sorry about that; I deleted all of the following comments.

  7. redQueen Says:

    ephemeral, re crime, it wasn’t that people had a higher tolerance for crime back then, I think it was still a holdover from the 70s when nyc was bankrupt, really, and simply didn’t have the manpower i.e., cops on the streets. Also, not to nitpick, sorry, but 106th and broadway would still have been uws, not morningside heights.

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