After graduating from Smith College in 1970, 22-year-old Patrice Leary did what thousands of other new grads do: She moved to New York City.
Patrice sublet a brownstone apartment at 310 West 73rd Street—then a sketchy block, but one that was likely affordable on a teacher’s salary.
She took a job teaching second grade at the posh Brearley School. She dated. She hung out with her roommate.
She worried about crime as well, “installing an extra lock on her steel door,” according to a New York Times article.
Weeks later, on October 29, friends noticed her apartment door was ajar. “Inside they saw her body, mutilated and bloody, clothed in a bra and underpants, lying on the floor,” noted the Times.
Investigators later determined that Patrice had been stabbed in the heart, a phone cord wrapped around her neck. Her head was also bashed in with a hammer.
Neighbors reported seeing a tall white man running out of the brownstone about the time Patrice had been murdered. But no suspect was ever named.
Police took the case hard. “This was no trollop or junkie,” said a lieutenant.
“This wasn’t someone who’s been pushing for trouble. This was a fine, decent girl, the kind of person you want to help and protect.”
The Times even pointed out that the Medical Examiner determined Patrice was still a virgin when she died, a detail I don’t think you’ll ever find in a newspaper today.
Even after a $1500 reward was offered for any information leading to an arrest, Patrice’s killer was never found.
[Photo: West 73rd Street between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive. where Patrice was killed, from Trulia]