The Butcher of Tompkins Square Park

Twenty years ago, in August 1989, East Village police began hearing rumors of a gruesome crime: A person had been killed, the body dismembered and boiled into soup—then the soup fed to unsuspecting homeless people in Tompkins Square Park. 

700eastninthstreetShockingly, the rumors turned out to be true. That September, cops arrested Daniel Rakowitz, a 28-year-old park regular who carried a chicken on his shoulder and called himself a “marijuana guru.”

Rakowitz was charged with murdering and dismembering the body of his girlfriend, 26-year-old Monika Beerle. The murder was committed in Rakowitz’s tenement building at 700 Avenue C, on the corner of Ninth Street. 

RakowitzThe details are pretty lurid. Rakowitz left Beerle’s skull in a storage area at the Port Authority Bus Terminal (in a bucket of cat litter no less).

Though he denied killed Beerle, a Swiss resident studying dance who supported herself as a topless dancer (gritty old Billy’s Topless on 24th Street, according to some accounts), he admitted to chopping her corpse, bleaching her bones, and hiding her body.

In 1991, Rakowitz was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He was sent to a maximum-security psychiatric facility on Ward’s Island, where he still lives today.

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23 Responses to “The Butcher of Tompkins Square Park”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    The address is in the 100s not 700 and now it’s probably very expensive, out of reach for most of us.

  2. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    Also found this

  3. Tom Says:

    the address is correct – i leved across the street at the time – it is 700 east 9th street

  4. eden Says:

    Yes, the address and building are correct. I was in that building several times.
    Probably is very expensive now though..

  5. BR Says:

    anybody else think this guy has a strong resemblance to Christian Bale?

  6. Barbara Says:

    Talk about having a flashback: I lived on St Marks & A during this time, and I remember the rumors going around. Was so disturbing they turned out to be true. Made me think: Uh, I think it’s time to leave NYC. 🙂

  7. lynz Says:

    Anyone know the apartment #?????? I am moving in there next week….

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  9. mila Says:

    it was the corner apartment on either the second or the third floor. i know, because i went to see the aptmnt and paid the crooked super, who acted “agent”, a deposit of $750 dollars. it was a bargain (for a three bedroom) because it was disgusting ( kitchen full of hair, me and my future roommate thought they had kept afhgan dogs or something…) and messy bc the original tenant supposedly had left for switzerland in a hurry.. turned out the super had known what had happened all along and he was trying to make a buck on renting the aptmnt to another dumb foreign student (that would be me…). it took almost a month before we (through the news!) found out what had happened. and although me and my roommate for about a day insisted that we still wanted the aptment, it was closed off for a long time and the local occult types hung out outside in the street doing some mumbojumbo/devilworshipping. it was creepy. and we never got our securitydeposit back from the super, and within a year he got arrested for something else…

  10. Tim Says:

    I lived in this building at the time, but did not find out about this whole thing until after I moved out. I lived with my roomate Reggie Alan. We lived on the top floor (5th?). Anyway if you look at the photo of the building it was the left view (9th St. side), top floor – all the way on the left was my bedroom. Half of the building was burnt-out, not sure if it ever got renovated. At the time Reggie and I worked at High Tech Mex, Mexican Restaurant on University Place. I was a Bartender there. Any way, I remember that guy. I remember him because he looked like Jesus. When I would walk into the building, I always wondered what that smell was.

  11. J.P. Beladino Says:

    I was staying with my girlfriend in the apartment upstairs and across the hall at the time. She used to smoke pot with him and she carried around one of his little legalize pot pamphlets. I had only met him a few times. He seemed like just another pot smoking hippie. After it all happend the people in the nieghborhood broke into the apartment past the flowers, candles and police tape and set it on fire to get rid of the evil spirits. I don’t remember her but I think it was acctually her apartment and she just let him live with her. It was a long time ago and that’s about all I can remember.

  12. NEIL Says:


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  14. Jade Says:

    My mother lived next door to him when this happened. About 2 days later they had a horrible smell in the room. My mother thought it was a rat died in between the walls, but it was a human.


    Steve says…..may that dude rot. toactually kill someone and boil the body parts for soup??? Totally sick and 20 or more years later one of the most bizarre stories to be heard in NYC.

  16. NEIL Says:


  17. Luis guzman Says:

    I lived in the park when that happen and i remember like it was today. I eat from that soup and i’m sorry to say it was one of the best soup i ever tasted.

  18. Elis Says:

    I hope this guy never comes out of the psychiatric ward. I was a teenager when he used to come around my job and talk to me about being “Jesus”, also told me about his 14 year old girlfriend. I thought there was something wrong with him but I did not know it was this bad. I saw him in the news when he got arrested for killing his girlfriend , I said all my God he could have done something like that to me.

  19. B pants Says:

    No such thing as 700 avenue c

  20. Jim Says:

    I knew this freak when he was living in Rockport,TX. He was always broke and trying to score some weed or even roaches. I can’t believe these people saying that he looks like Christian Bale or Jesus. He never looked like anyone else. Probably because he rarely bathed or anything considered personal hygiene. My friends and brother and I would be hanging out or cruising to Port A and this dude always wanted to tag along. One of my friend’s sister liked him so we would let him come sometimes. He would start talking about that satanic devil worshipping crap and everyone would tell him to STFU. He would always keep running his mouth though until one of us would get sick of hearing it and bust him in the mouth. Seeing him get an ass kicking was almost always a given. I don’t know why he kept coming back and wanting to hang out with us. I guess it was for beer because he couldn’t buy it himself. I remember that he always had a thing for little young girls too. I think he showed up one night with a twelve year old girl. He got an ass whooping over that too. How that dude got anyone to follow him in a cult is beyond comprehension. He was weak, uneducated, socially awkward, withdrawn and definitely lemming, not leader, material. I don’t doubt for a second that he didn’t kill that poor girl. I think one on one she would have kicked his ass. However, I also don’t doubt for a second that he would do some depraved cannibalistic crap and try to pass it off as some great feat he was performing for a satanic ritual. He was always that desperate for approval or acceptance. He would always get illusions of grandeur and start babbling on and on about how great he was going to be, until he ignored the suggestions to STFU one time too many and got a sudden case of, “FAT-LIP” syndrome. I hope the girl’s family is healed and I definitely hope they never let that nitwit mingle with society ever again. This plea of insanity is just plain dumb. If anyone is insane long enough to kill another human, carve them up, hide the bones, cut a human being up as though she was no more than a processed slab of meat, cook your ex-girlfriend into a stew and then derive pleasure from watching other people unwittingly do something that they would probably die themselves before willingly committing such a hideous thing. That’s not insane. It’s planned, calculated, committed and vile behavior that took a sinister but sane thought process to see it through to it’s conclusion. After that much detailed and planned destruction of humanity against one person, now he’s truly insane. No person could ever carry that past an evil thought to an action and ever again consider themselves to belong to humanity. No, there is no human left in there to rehabilitate; only a desperate spirit that craves attention at any cost. An evil, calculating inhumane, poisonous lemming thing so desperate for approval that it sacrificed the right to even be called by the same genus as us.

  21. Daniel Dolan Says:

    I also new him. He moved into our squat on 5th between A and B. I remember him approaching us on the stoop, with, what i thought was a comedy act, and weed. He would say outlandish things about there not being enough women in our group and that we could keep some in the basement with chains.Hahaha(?!)
    Anyway he also kept chickens and briefly, a goat, as well as all his urine and feces in five gallon buckets. What a charmer. I had left in dec 88, and didnt return till the following september. I picked up a village voice with him on it, and curious, took it to tomkins to read. Aw geez. Friends in the park told me some details, one, Robert(lobar) told me of finding a finger in his cup..

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