Murder on 72nd Street Inspires Classic Novel, Film

Roseann Quinn murder

Background: 253 West 72nd Street (Google Maps, 2011). Inset: Roseann Quinn, c/o

In the early 1970s, a school teacher living on the Upper West Side was tragically killed in her apartment by a man she had met at a local bar several days prior. This horrifying event inspired Judith Rossner’s Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1975), a book that would be adapted into a 1977 film starring Diane Keaton and Richard Gere.


Roseann Quinn was born in 1944 in the Bronx and was raised in a Catholic family in New Jersey. Despite suffering from polio at the age of 13, she recovered and went on to graduate from Morris Catholic High School in 1962 and Newark State Teachers College in 1966. She began her career teaching at St. Joseph’s School for the Deaf in the Bronx, where she was highly regarded by her students.

In the early 1970s, Quinn moved to the Upper West Side and lived alone in a small studio apartment at 253 West 72nd Street.

She was known to frequent bars on her own after work, and one of her neighbors said she would frequently bring men back to her apartment for the night. This same neighbor claimed that on one occasion, after hearing screams coming from Roseann’s apartment, she found her crying in the hallway with a black eye.

READ MORE: Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs – and a 1944 Murder in Riverside Park

On the evening of January 1, 1973, Quinn went to a bar called W. M. Tweeds and met two men, Danny Murray and John Wayne Wilson, who were reportedly a gay couple who had been living together for about a year. Murray left the bar at 11:00 p.m. and Roseann ended up returning to her apartment with Wilson. (Danny Murray’s actual name may have been Geary Guest; various reports conflict.) 

Three days later, on January 4, the building superintendent discovered the 28-year-old schoolteacher beaten, raped, and stabbed in her West 72nd Street apartment. She had been violated with a candle and the apartment was ransacked with blood-splattered walls.

READ MORE: Look Out the Window Next Time You Pass 86th Street

Wilson, who was 23, was arrested for the grisly murder on January 11. It was revealed that he had a criminal record, including time served for disorderly conduct and larceny. He was eventually convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Four months after his arrest, Wilson took his own life by hanging himself in his cell with bed sheets.


Those who knew Quinn said she had moved to the building on 72nd Street because she felt safe there. In an interview with the New York Times, a bartender at W. M. Tweed’s said “She lived up on 87th Street until a year ago, but I remember her saying she felt afraid there.”


Sharing is caring!


Latest Comments

  1. Jay January 5, 2023
  2. luther January 5, 2023
    • Weird That Way January 5, 2023
  3. Dr. Laura Marrs January 5, 2023
  4. Don January 7, 2023

Leave a Reply