Janies Wylie (left) and Emily Hoffer (right)
Janies Wylie (left) and Emily Hoffer (right)
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The Career Girls Murders

The Career Girls Murders was the name given by the media to the killings of Emily Hoffert and Janice Wylie in their apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City, USA on August 28, 1963. George Whitmore, Jr, was accused of this and other crimes but later cleared.

The actions of the police department led Whitmore to be improperly accused of this and other crimes, including the murder of Minnie Edmonds and the attempted rape and assault of Elba Borrero. Whitmore was wrongfully incarcerated for 1,216 days — from his arrest on April 24, 1964 until his release on bond on July 13, 1966, and from the revocation of his bond on February 28, 1972 until his exoneration on April 10, 1973.

His treatment by the authorities was cited as an example that led the US Supreme Court to issue the guidelines known as the Miranda rights. The Whitmore case was also considered as being instrumental in the restriction and eventual elimination of the death penalty in New York State. As the New York Times stated on the occasion of the actual killer's denial of parole in 1998, "[t]he murders at first led to the arrest of an innocent man, George Whitmore Jr., and the case helped contribute to the abolition of the state's death penalty and to the restriction of police interrogations throughout the country. New York State legislators said an innocent man could have been executed after giving a forced confession."

[T]he girls had been stabbed and cut at least 63 times. Since the damage was extensive, it was impossible to get an exact count. The room was drenched in blood. There were several broken knife blades near the bodies, including one that was broken in Emily's chest. The doctor who performed the autopsies later told the press that the girls had suffered "vicious mutilation" during the assault. Janice had been slashed seven times in the heart. She had multiple stab wounds in the neck, the abdomen and her stomach had been ripped open. Her intestines were lying on the floor next to her body. Two broken knife handles were placed on top of a radiator cover in the bedroom. A third knife was on top of the bathroom sink and apparently had been washed by the suspect.

Richard Robles, who has served 24 years in the famous ''career girls'' murder case, has been denied parole for a second time.

Mr. Robles, now 45 years old, was given a life sentence for the killing of Janice Wylie, a Newsweek researcher, and Emily Hoffert, an elementary-school teacher, in an East Side apartment on Aug. 28, 1963.

The murders at first led to the arrest of an innocent man, George Whitmore Jr., and the case helped contribute to the abolition of the state's death penalty and to the restriction of police interrogations throughout the country. New York State legislators said an innocent man could have been executed after giving a forced confession.

I just went bananas. My head just exploded. I got to kill. Your mind just races and races. It’s almost like you're not you.

— Richard Robles

The homicides and rape in 1963, known as the Career Girl Murders, provoked widespread fear among women in the city. An intensive police investigation led to a confession, later said to have been coerced, from an innocent 19-year-old, George Whitmore Jr., before Mr. Robles was implicated in the slayings.

It was Mr. Whitmore's potential brush with the electric chair that swayed the Legislature in 1965 to end capital punishment. The purported beatings and threats used by detectives to obtain a false confession from Mr. Whitmore were also cited by the United States Supreme Court in its 1966 Miranda ruling limiting police powers to interrogate suspects.

There are few stories in the annals of true crime like that of the career girl murder case of 1963. On one level, it was a classical whodunit tale that had Manhattan detectives stumped for many months while public pressure to solve the killings built to a boiling point. The savage sex-murders of two girls on Manhattans Upper East Side in 1963 instilled genuine fear into thousands of young women and shocked even the most hardened investigators. On another level, it exposed an ugly and secret side of police work, which forced the Supreme Court of the United States to address the constitutional issues at stake.