The real culprit who 'fessed up to the crime. Got this from Murderpedia. Crime blogs call this guy the East Side Slasher, very violent serial rapist and killer. Doing 33 to life. However he wasnt charged with the case of the Central Park jogger because of the statute of limitations
Characteristics: Juvenile (17) - Serial rapist
Number of victims: 1 - 2
Date of murders: 1988 / April 19, 1989
Date of arrest: August 5, 1989
Date of birth: 1971
Victims profile: 24-year-old pregnant woman / Trisha Meili, the "Central Park Jogger"
Method of murder: ??? / Beating with a rock
Location: New York, USA
Status: Sentenced to 33 1/3 years to life on November 1, 1991
Matias Reyes (b. c. 1971) is a serial rapist and murderer who, while serving a lifetime prison sentence for other crimes, confessed to the rape and nearly fatal assault of Trisha Meili, the "Central Park Jogger" on April 19, 1989.
On August 5, 1989, Reyes raped a woman who escaped and ran for help. He was arrested at that time and later confessed to an earlier rape and murder of a pregnant mother of 3 whose three children huddled in the next room during the attack. Other living victims identified him as a rapist. In a plea bargain he was given a sentence of 33 1/3 years to life.
In the assault on Meili, six youths under 18 were convicted of that crime in 1990, based in part upon confessions in which they implicated each other. At the trial they argued the confessions were coerced or improperly obtained.
Reyes confessed to the crime in May 2002, their convictions were vacated in December that year. DNA evidence confirmed that Reyes raped Meili but could not confirm that he acted alone as he claimed.
Central Park Rape Convictions Tossed
Five Men Cleared After DNA Implicates Another Man For 1989 Attack
By Dan Collins - CBS News
Dec. 19, 2002
Thirteen years after the brutal rape and beating of a Central Park jogger, a judge on Thursday dismissed the convictions of all five men who served prison time for the attack.
State Justice Charles Tejada, moving more quickly than defense lawyers and prosecutors had expected, dismissed all indictments against the five less than a week before Christmas. His ruling wasn't expected until Jan. 6.
The decision to dismiss the indictments means prosecutors would have to start from scratch with a grand jury to retry the five.
Tejeda's decision came after lawyers from the police detectives' union unsuccessfully tried to block his ruling. The Detectives' Endowment Association wanted an evidentiary hearing first, said attorney Philip Karsyk.
The primary evidence in the case had been confessions made to detectives.
Supporters of the accused have said those statements were coerced. The five black and Hispanic youths were between the ages of 14 and 16 when they were arrested in connection with the April 19, 1989 attack on the white investment banker.
No forensic evidence linked any of them to the crime scene.
The five, now ages 28 to 30, completed prison sentences ranging from 5 1/2 years to 13 years on their convictions.
Tejeda's decision came two weeks after Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau recommended dropping all the convictions in the case.
Morgenthau's recommendation came 11 months after a convicted rapist, who had never before been under suspicion, confessed and said he acted alone in committing the crime that had been blamed on a gang of "wilding" youths. DNA evidence backed his claim.
Tejeda's ruling opens the door to civil suits against the city and frees the men, now in their late 20s, from having to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.
The 28-year-old victim was left for dead in a pool of mud and blood after the attack on April 19, 1989. Now 41, she has said she has no memory of what happened, preventing her from helping identify any suspects.
The woman lost three-quarters of her blood, and her body temperature dipped into the 80s. She was bruised from head to toe; on a scale of 3 to 15 used by neurologists to measure brain function, she was rated a 4. She spent 12 days in a coma.
The case remains an infamous benchmark in city history. The jogger was assaulted as dozens of teenagers descended on Central Park that night to mug runners and bicyclists — a crime spree dubbed "wilding." That the attack happened in Manhattan's bucolic oasis and was so random in nature terrified many New Yorkers in an era when the city's crime rate was soaring.
Defense attorneys said the youths, all from Harlem, were coerced into bogus confessions by police. But until January's confession, there seemed to be little chance of overturning the convictions against Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Kharey Wise and Yusef Salaam.
The confession came from Matias Reyes, 31, who is currently serving a life sentence for raping three women near Central Park and for raping and killing a pregnant woman. He said he broke his long silence after finding religion.
Reyes told investigators he raped the jogger, crushed her skull with a rock and left her for dead. He also said he followed his usual pattern of acting alone.
Test results returned in May confirmed Reyes' DNA matched semen collected from the jogger's body. The same tests failed to link the five youths to the savage crime scene.
The former prosecutor in the case, Linda Fairstein, recently said she has no doubts the five are guilty and that Reyes merely finished the assault.
The case involving minority defendants and a white victim dominated headlines and stoked racial tensions. Developer Donald Trump took out newspaper ads saying the attack was worthy of the death penalty.
Investigators said blond hair found on one of the youths matched that of the victim. But there was no match on semen samples, or other compelling physical evidence.
The men were convicted anyway in 1990 after jurors watched their videotaped confessions. "We all took turns getting on top of her," McCray, then 15, told police in one tape.
The defense insisted those confessions were forced out of the youths by police who kept them under questioning for hours.
Over the past year, the defense had said Reyes' confession, along with police knowledge that he had attacked another woman in the park two days earlier, were sufficient to nullify the rape convictions. However, news reports suggested that police wanted to stand by the youths' convictions on other charges.
Police and prosecutors questioned Reyes' story, saying there was no guarantee the convicted rapist was telling the truth about the attack.
The jogger, an employee of Salomon Bros., has since made an amazing recovery, lives in a Connecticut suburb and works for a nonprofit organization. She has been married for five years, and reportedly has a book due out in April.
Central Park Revisited
Thirteen years ago, the Central Park jogger case gave callous new faces to New York's social breakdown and began to usher in the Giuliani era. Now a new confession has reopened old racial scars and raised questions about how police do their work.
By Chris Smith - NYmag.com
He wiped her blood off his hands and went home. Left behind, in a shallow ravine near Central Park's 102nd Street transverse, was the brutalized body of a 28-year-old woman. Matias Reyes says he had raped and beaten her so viciously that he assumed she would die. The curly-haired 17-year-old boy calmly strolled north, into the night.
Thirteen years later, Reyes returns to the scene of the crime. This time he is in handcuffs, after a six-hour drive from the cell in a state prison near the Canadian border where he's serving 331⁄3 to life after pleading guilty, in 1991, to four rapes and the murder of a pregnant woman. For this visit to the 102nd Street transverse, on a spring day in 2002, Reyes is accompanied by investigators from the Manhattan district attorney's office. They want to test the claim that Reyes waited until this year to make: that on the night of April 19, 1989, he and he alone attacked the woman who became known around the world as the Central Park jogger.
His first appearance at this spot triggered events that nearly consumed the city. Now the return of Matias Reyes is roiling dozens of lives all over again.
Five teenagers were convicted of the attack on the Central Park jogger, in two stormy trials. All pleaded not guilty and claimed that their videotaped confessions were concocted by the cops. Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam, and Kharey Wise served sentences ranging from five to thirteen years. Wise got out of prison August 12 -- just months after the only DNA collected at the crime scene, which was never tied to any of the accused, was matched to Reyes.
In August, lawyers for the five petitioned to have the convictions dismissed, saying that new evidence -- Reyes's confession and his DNA -- had surfaced that could have substantially altered the original verdicts. The D.A.'s office has been reinvestigating the Central Park case for nine months -- but on October 21, Robert Morgenthau's office will be back in State Supreme Court asking for a 30-day extension. Reyes has now been linked to eight rapes in a seven-month period, including one in Central Park on April 17, two days before the infamous jogger attack.
No matter what Judge Charles Tejada ultimately decides, the case has already had multiple, dramatic consequences: most tragically for the jogger, who nearly died. After years of rehabilitation, she still suffers from impaired vision and sketchy balance. Her emotional trauma is unquantifiable. And five anguished families watched their sons disappear into prison.
The case also changed the city itself. Bigger trends -- the crack plague, the economic bust and then boom -- played dominant roles in the story of the nineties. But the symbolism of the Central Park case altered everything from two mayoral elections to the reaction when a knot of teenage boys appeared on a dimly-lit sidewalk.
Now the case returns, uncannily, as anxieties about crime, civil rights, and the economy revive -- and as part of a revolution sweeping the criminal-justice system, courtesy of DNA testing and a new concern about false confessions.
New York in the spring of 1989 was a city of jangling nerves and rising fears. Crack was blighting whole families and neighborhoods. Violent-crime rates were rising for the third straight year, and homicides would set a record. On Wall Street, the mergers-and-acquisitions bubble was giving way to corporate scandals. A new buzzword, underclass, was emerging as the label for the seemingly intractable urban pathology spawned by poverty.
Race relations framed many of the media's big stories. The Reverend Al Sharpton was still loudly proclaiming that Tawana Brawley told the truth. Three white men convicted of chasing a 23-year-old black man, Michael Griffith, to his death on the Belt Parkway were beginning a contentious appeal.
And 1989 was a mayoral-election year. Ed Koch's shrillness was a central issue in a tight Democratic-primary campaign. His strongest rival, Manhattan borough president David Dinkins, was, not coincidentally, a black man with an anodyne personality. Racial tensions worsened in August, when 16-year-old Yusef Hawkins, a black kid lost in Bensonhurst, was attacked by racist white thugs, shot, and killed.
Beneath these volatile events churned the Central Park jogger case. The victim was white and middle-class and female, a promising young investment banker at Salomon Brothers with a Wellesley–Yale–Phi Beta Kappa pedigree. The suspects were black and Latino and male and much younger, some with dubious school records, some from fractured homes, all from Harlem. That the crime took place in Central Park, mythologized as the city's verdant, democratic refuge, played right into the theme of middle-class violation.
Almost from the moment the jogger was found, the Central Park case has existed as a vehicle for clashing worldviews: that held by the older, white, traditional-family-structure New York and that of the newer, nonwhite, poorer, marginalized New York. The furious reaction to the arrests and the trials illustrated how stark that cultural divide had become. And though the current legal breakthrough in the jogger case comes from the advent of cold, scientific DNA testing, the war for perceptions remains trapped in opposing views of the police: faith or mistrust.
Mike Sheehan, 54, one of the key detectives in the Central Park case, comes out of the city's tradition of street-savvy Irish cops. Michael Warren, 58, the lawyer who is trying to vindicate McCray, Richardson, and Santana, comes out of the sixties tradition of black radicalism. Both men, and the camps they represent, are tenacious in defending their sense of emotional innocence. "All this stuff about coercion really pisses me off," Sheehan says. "Do you honestly think that we -- detectives with more than twenty years in, family men with pensions -- would risk all of that so we could put words in the mouth of a 15-year-old kid? Absolutely not."
"Oh, the police are lying," Warren says. "Absolutely. I've spoken to the parents, I've spoken to our clients, and I've seen the effect on them when they begin to tell the story of what was done to them during the interrogations: They break down. So I don't have any question as to their version of what took place."
Unfortunately, for everyone else, the hardest thing to come by in this case has always been absolutes.
On Wednesday, April 19, 1989, at about 9 p.m., reports began filtering into the Central Park precinct that a marauding gang of youths was beating up joggers and bicyclists. The initial response was haphazard. Jogger David Good approached an officer on a scooter to say he'd been attacked; the cop rode off in the opposite direction. Patrol cars were dispatched around 9:30, responding to assault and robbery calls. Near 10 p.m., at the northern edge of the reservoir, jogger John Loughlin was bludgeoned in the back of the head, apparently with a pipe. At roughly 10:30, at 100th Street and Central Park West, two cops grabbed five boys, including Richardson and Santana.
The first interviews were conducted inside the tiny Central Park station house; Santana contributed many of the 33 names on a list of kids said to be in the park that night. It wasn't until 1:30 a.m. that two construction workers, walking through the park after having a couple of beers, heard moaning and discovered a woman writhing in a ravine. The jogger, her skull smashed so badly that nearly 80 percent of her blood seeped onto the ground, had lain helpless for nearly four hours.
Later that morning, Linda Fairstein got a call. The head of the Manhattan D.A.'s Sex Crimes unit learned that her superior, Nancy Ryan, then the assistant district attorney for homicide cases, was taking control of the investigation with Ryan's top aide, Peter Casolaro, because the jogger was thought likely to die. Fairstein went over Ryan's head, to District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, arguing that the jogger was definitely the victim of a sex crime and if she lived would need a compassionate prosecutor. Fairstein won the turf skirmish. Soon, her best prosecutor, Elizabeth Lederer, was preparing to make videotapes.
The lowlights saturated the news. McCray: "We charged her. We got her on the ground. Everybody started hitting her and stuff. She was on the ground. Everybody stompin' and everything. Then we got, each -- I grabbed one arm, some other kid grabbed one arm, and we grabbed her legs and stuff. The we all took turns getting on her, getting on top of her."
Richardson: "Raymond had her arms, and Steve [Lopez] had her legs. He spread it out. And Antron got on top, took her panties off."
Santana: "He was smackin' her, he was sayin', 'Shut up, bitch!' Just smackin' her . . . I was grabbin' the lady's tits."
Wise: "This is my first rape."
As they confessed, the boys spoke in matter-of-fact cadences. McCray at times seemed embarrassed, Santana defiant, and all of them looked tired -- videotaping began on April 21, after most of the suspects had been awake for nearly two days. But none appeared apologetic or upset.
As inflammatory as some of the videotaped statements were, a few off-camera quotes also incited fury. Police officials told reporters that the boys had coined a new term, wilding, to describe beating up random victims, and that while in a holding cell the suspects had laughed and sung the rap hit "Wild Thing." Another law-enforcement leak had Salaam explaining why the boys had gone on their spree: "It was fun," Salaam was said to have said.
The tabloids and TV news were predictably sensationalistic. But a presumption of guilt infected coverage everywhere: "A 28-year-old investment banker, jogging through Central Park, was attacked by a group of teenagers. They kicked and beat her in the head with a pipe and raped her. The teenagers, who were from East Harlem, were quickly arrested." That's from the Times, and it appeared on May 29, a little more than one month after the five were indicted.
Beyond the initial shocking impact, the confessions grew in importance as forensic evidence failed to materialize. No blood or DNA tests tied the five to the jogger. Hairs found on Richardson's clothes were said to be "consistent" with those of the jogger, but it was precious little residue considering that five people were accused of beating and raping a woman in a muddy ravine.
The videotapes also showed rampant inconsistencies in the boys' accounts of the evening in the park. During deliberations, jurors, especially those who discounted the confessions, tried to fill in the troubling lack of physical evidence. In the second trial, juror Ivette Naftal picked up Kevin Richardson's underpants and showed the other jurors what she said were grass and mud stains -- therefore, Richardson must have pulled his pants down and raped the jogger. Incredibly, the prosecutors had never tested the stains, so their origin remains a mystery. But Naftal's argument swayed enough jurors to convict Richardson of sexual assault.
In the two trials, Lederer, the prosecutor, did a skillful job of weaving the jogger attack into the series of random acts of violence committed by packs of 30 to 40 youths that night. Yet that broader picture -- which prosecution sources still emphasize is crucial to the guilt of the five in the jogger attack -- has a large flaw. None of the seven other joggers and bicyclists who testified about other incidents was ever able to identify McCray, Richardson, Salaam, Santana, or Wise.
The majority of jurors, however, kept coming back to what they saw as a common-sense analysis: How could four of the five teens, with adult relatives by their sides, give richly detailed statements incriminating themselves in a horrific act that they simply didn't commit? (Wise, 16, was unaccompanied; Salaam wasn't videotaped.) And the majority of jurors eventually won the debate -- though not completely through the weight of logic. Tim Sullivan, who had extensive access to the Central Park jurors for his book Unequal Verdicts, quotes one juror as disregarding the legal instructions of trial judge Thomas Galligan. "There's always that danger, that jurors will try to come up with something, because at some point they feel like prisoners," says Sullivan, now a producer at Court TV. "If a jury is in there for ten or twelve days, as these were, people start looking for a way to get out."
Meanwhile, on August 5, 1989, a rape victim managed to run out her apartment door screaming when her attacker went into the kitchen searching for a knife with which to blind her. When the rapist ran down to the lobby in pursuit, the building super whacked Matias Reyes with a mop and held him until police arrived.
The detective who took Reyes's statement inside the 20th Precinct that day was Mike Sheehan. "In 25 years on the job, I took over 1,000 confessions, in 3,000 homicides," Sheehan says now. "Out of all the bad guys I've talked to across the table, this is one of the top five lunatics. This guy was a frightening guy. He was capable of doing anything. He's very manipulative."
Sheehan, who became famous during the Robert Chambers case and is now a reporter for Fox-5, grew up in East Harlem when it had a sizable Italian and Irish population. Even Sheehan's lunch is old-school: Today at Bill's g** Nineties in midtown, he orders a burger with a slice of raw onion and Worcestershire sauce, and washes it down with two beers.
In the summer of 1989, a serial rapist was terrorizing women on the Upper East Side; connecting the assaults were the rapist's attempts to stab out the eyes of his victims so he couldn't be identified. Sheehan, a legendary detective with Manhattan North Homicide, got involved in June after the second victim, Lourdes Gonzalez, 24, was stabbed to death -- while her three young children watched. Detectives from the Sex Crimes unit took down Reyes's confession to three rapes, but he denied having anything to do with the rape and murder of Lourdes Gonzalez.
Sheehan spent six hours getting to know Reyes. The detective described how they shared roots in East Harlem. Pretty soon, Reyes was calling him Mikey. Sheehan further bonded with Reyes over an unhappy similarity. "Nobody does rape for the sex," Sheehan says. "It's a crime of violence. They're lashing out. A lot because they were victims of some kind of sexual abuse. I said to Reyes, 'We're all guys in this room. Nobody is gonna embarrass anybody. I guarantee you that something really bad happened to you as a kid.' He starts looking down. I say, 'I know, because something really bad happened to me as a kid.' 'To you?' he says. I tell him, 'I wasn't always this size, I wasn't always a detective. A lot of crazy stuff happens in this city. I'll tell you what happened -- and I'll even go first, and then you tell me what happened to you. Is that fair? Something did happen to you, right?' He says, 'Maybe.' "
Sheehan, a master empathizer, told Reyes how, at the age of 12, he needed to use a subway bathroom and was cornered by a pervert. "All of a sudden," Sheehan says, "Reyes's whole face is getting red, he's squinting, he's digging his fingers into the table." When it came time for Reyes to describe his own shame, Sheehan reassured him and at the same time cracked Reyes's resistance. "I said, 'I'm not gonna run out on the street and tell people Matias Reyes got raped. Maybe it was even a relative.' The guy went wild, cursing. Now he's totally discombobulated." From there, it was a short trip to Reyes's admission that he killed Lourdes Gonzalez.
Reyes gave no hint he had anything to do with the Central Park jogger attack. "This was not a guy to have sex as part of a group of people," Sheehan says, trying to explain why he didn't think to ask Reyes about the Central Park jogger. "Totally different M.O. This guy was a hostage taker. He wanted total control, by himself. And as he told me, describing what he did with Lourdes Gonzalez, 'We made love.' Not like 'I fucked her.' It was 'I made love. In the sleeping room.' The park was not his thing. Obviously, now we know he was there. But there was no reason to suspect him in that case at all."
In Sheehan's account of the Central Park interrogations, the police officers never raised their voices, let alone their fists. The detectives were so concerned with proper procedure, Sheehan says, that they moved the suspects from the 20th to the 24th Precinct so that they would be videotaped according to regulations, in a designated "youth room." Coercion? Just the opposite, Sheehan says: When Santana spontaneously started describing the attack on the jogger, Sheehan says he told the boy to wait until Raymond Santana Sr. arrived.
Detective Tom McKenna was more active. The 21-year veteran falsely told Yusef Salaam that fingerprints had been found on the jogger's clothes. "Salaam looks at me and says, 'I was there, but I didn't rape her,' " McKenna recalls. "We are allowed, by law, to use guile and ruse, and we do. People only give things up when you tell 'em you got 'em. But to frame somebody and leave the right son-of-a-bitch out in the street? I'm irate anyone would infer that."
Nor has Sheehan lost any sleep over the convictions. "I used to lie awake at night thinking about cases we had over the years: I hope to God we have the right guy," he says. "That's your biggest fear: You never want to put an innocent person in jail. Mother of God! I didn't worry much on this one. Because they're telling us where they were. They are telling us -- the sequence may be off, but they're essentially telling us the same stuff. They remember a guy they beat and took his food, they remember hitting this guy running around the reservoir. They went through all of these things, each kid. And they also tell you about the jogger. And they place people, so you have a mental picture of where they were around this woman's body. And their parents are with them, not only in the interviews but in the videotape, for the record. That's enough for me. I'm satisfied."
Three of the Central Park defendants lived in Schomburg Plaza, an apartment complex at 110th Street and Fifth Avenue. Bill Perkins was president of the Schomburg tenants' association then, and since 1997 he's been a city councilman. Perkins has remained close to the families, and when he read of Reyes's confession in June -- Reyes says a religious awakening prompted him to come forward; the statute of limitations on the jogger case had expired -- Perkins consulted with the families, then called his old friend Michael Warren. Warren enlisted as co-counsel Roger Wareham, 53, a leader in the slavery-reparations movement.
This summer, Warren and Wareham sent a private investigator, Earl Rawlins, upstate to interview Reyes. Rawlins returned with detailed written and audiotaped revelations that form the backbone of the motion to dismiss the Central Park convictions (Yusef Salaam and Kharey Wise are represented by two other attorneys who've filed parallel actions). But Warren isn't resting on Reyes's confession. He knows that the D.A.'s office could argue that it has acknowledged all along that some of the jogger's attackers escaped, and that finding Reyes's semen on the jogger's sock doesn't invalidate the videotaped confessions. So Warren is reviving the old doubts about the validity of the confessions. "To the extent that the parents were present at that time, it's really insignificant in terms of trying to assert that the parents voluntarily knew what was going on and agreed to it," Warren says. "That's just not the case. And the videotaping is the last stage of this process. At that point, the children will say whatever they've been scripted to say."
He's also trying to punch new holes in the original police investigations. "We know that Mike Sheehan had to be aware that there was an unidentified DNA sample," Warren says. "And we know that he, along with a couple of other detectives, suggested or requested that Reyes's DNA be compared to four cases that Reyes admitted to. And there was a match. All these things should have triggered his concern that 'hey, maybe we should attempt to try to get a match on this specimen in the Central Park case.' He didn't do it. It's more than laziness. They had a nice clean ribbon that they had tied around all five boys. And they didn't want to interfere with that."
Sheehan says he knew nothing of the Central Park DNA until the first trial, in June 1990. Even if he did, why would Sheehan avoid implicating a possible sixth jogger assailant? "Why didn't they do it in the Scottsboro case?" Warren says. "For the same reason: Convicting these boys was the easiest route to take."
Warren's other clients have included Amadou Diallo's family; Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman; El Sayyid Nosair, the assassin of Jewish extremist Meir Kahane; and Tupac Shakur, when he was charged with sexual abuse. "The thread is injustice, whether it be in the criminal sphere or the civil sphere, involving wrongful conduct by the police," he says. "I come out of a movement that's involved in addressing injustices." As a college student, Warren was expelled for allegedly threatening a college president during a union-organizing rally, but he was reinstated the following spring thanks to William Kunstler, who filed suit on Warren's behalf. "We molded a friendship," Warren says. "Little did I know that I would be trying cases with Bill later on."
These days, Warren works out of a tidy office on the ground floor of the Clinton Hill brownstone he shares with his wife. A painting of Che Guevara looks down on Warren's desk. In the current reinvestigation, Warren is confident that he has the facts and the law on his side. The internal politics of the D.A.'s office could also work in his clients' favor: Nancy Ryan and Peter Casolaro, who were elbowed aside by Linda Fairstein thirteen years ago, are supervising the review.
Even if his clients are exonerated, though, the story won't be over. "Oh, no," Warren says, flashing a smile. "People were put through pain, and there's got to be a payment. What's important to us now is to alleviate the present pain they're going through, to some extent. Where we go from there, we haven't spent much time talking about that. But we're quite aware that there are other remedies."
In a perfect world, the D.A.'s office would have tested Reyes's and every other rapist's DNA against that found on the Central Park jogger's sock. But beyond the practical problems -- no DNA data bank existed in 1989; detectives were plenty busy -- such open-ended hunting would have gone against ingrained NYPD culture. Detectives consider a case closed when "good" arrests are made.
Indirectly, however, the mind-set that shaped the Central Park and Reyes investigations led to one of the crucial improvements in the nineties NYPD. When Bill Bratton arrived as police commissioner, he promoted an eccentric, brilliant transit detective named Jack Maple to become his chief strategist. Maple, who died in 2001, became justly famous for Compstat, a system of mapping crimes -- first with pushpins, then with computers. Maple got less publicity for an equally important change. He pushed for cops to question suspects for leads on any and all other crimes. Good cops already did this, but Maple made it a priority. Sheehan might never have gotten Reyes to implicate himself in the Central Park attack, even following Maple's principles. But he might not have been satisfied with tying Reyes to the Lourdes Gonzalez murder.
Changing police culture is very much on the minds of Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck. Two weeks ago, Neufeld flew from New York to Billings, Montana, to welcome Jimmy Ray Bromgard back to freedom. In 1987, Bromgard was found guilty of raping an 8-year-old girl. In late September, Bromgard became the 111th wrongfully convicted person to be cleared by DNA testing, two thirds of them by Neufeld and Scheck.
"A guy in California just got out, and there will be two more guys next week in Savannah," Scheck says, staring into the distance and trying to do the math in his head. "And soon there will be five more in New York, right?"
Neufeld and Scheck launched the Innocence Project in 1992. Right now their mostly volunteer law-student staff is scrambling to file petitions on behalf of thousands of Florida inmates who've been granted a brief window of time for DNA reviews. The second chance came after a death-row inmate named Frank Lee Smith died awaiting a DNA test that would have cleared him.
But the Innocence Project's agenda is far broader than applying DNA testing to old cases. "Twenty-three percent of the post-conviction DNA exonerations involve false confessions or admissions," Scheck says over a glass of red wine in a bar around the corner from his prodigiously messy Greenwich Village office. "And that's just after conviction. There are thousands of cases where people have been exonerated by DNA after they were arrested but before they were convicted. Many of those cases involve false confessions. The DNA work has pointed clearly and dramatically to this problem of false confessions."
The Innocence Project's solution is to videotape all conversations between police and suspects who are in custody, and Bill Perkins has introduced a City Council bill. "It's a bad idea," a city prosecutor says. "There's so much give and take between detectives and suspects. The smart guys get them something to eat, they talk to them, they schmooze them. You'd be looking at videos that last for hours and hours." There is also the philosophical question of how much a general public that wants to see bad guys locked up is prepared to know about what happens in an interrogation.
Already, though, Scheck and Neufeld have helped make New York's courts more accurate than most. In 1994, they lobbied Governor Mario Cuomo to create a state Forensic Science Review Board that would certify and regulate all crime labs. Then they nudged the city to spend $33 million to upgrade its crime lab in Queens. "Now New York leads the country in trying to run down cold cases with DNA," Scheck says.
During the first Central Park trial, Scheck advised defense lawyer Mickey Joseph, who represented Antron McCray. "The next time I heard about this case was in June, when I was called by a reporter for the Times, who told me that we, the Innocence Project, had received a letter from Matias Reyes," Scheck says. "Except that we hadn't. Oddly enough, he had written to Lynne Stewart and asked her to send the letter on to us." Since then the duo has been consulting with Warren and Wareham and prodding the process forward.
"It would be a terrible shame if this whole reexamination did not result in doing something to prevent false confessions," Scheck says. "The Central Park case has all the earmarks we've seen in our other cases of false confessions. And in all these cases, we find that the real assailant committed many crimes."
Matias Reyes was born in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, and spent most of his early years there with his father while his mother lived in New York. At 7, Reyes told a psychologist hired by his defense lawyer, his life took a dark turn: He was sexually abused by two male strangers. "Given what Reyes did later on in life, this fits the pattern," says his former lawyer Richard Siracusa. "Then he came to live with his mother in New York. There was a little problem when he was 15 or 16."
Siracusa knows depravity; in practice for 28 years, he's represented serial killers. But the lawyer pauses before continuing: "He and a friend sexually abused Reyes's mother." Reyes returned to his father's house. His mother moved out of state. "He comes back from Puerto Rico after a couple of years, when he's about 17," Siracusa says. "I don't think he ever saw the mother again. He lives over a grocery store, by himself. Then he decided to become a serial rapist."
Until then, Reyes was a muscular but unimposing five-foot-seven-inch anonymous young man, a ninth-grade dropout stocking shelves in a bodega beneath his apartment on Third Avenue at 103rd Street. Reyes told a psychologist hired by Siracusa that he snorted cocaine daily but that "I always say no to violence."
On November 1, 1991, Reyes appeared in court for sentencing. When it was his turn to speak, Reyes began by calling Judge Thomas Galligan -- the same man who'd presided over the Central Park trials -- a "motherfucker," then yelled, "I didn't kill anybody. I'm tired of this shit. The attorneys this court give me don't do nothing for me." Reyes wheeled and punched Siracusa in the head, knocking his lawyer to the ground. "He put a couple of court officers out for a few months -- dislocated shoulder, a broken bone," Siracusa says. "He was kicking and screaming the whole way out. I still remember that look on his face, a face out of your nightmares. He totally changed -- it was like the devil. He's a pure psychopath."
Dr. N. G. Berrill, the psychologist hired by the defense, spent three days examining Reyes. "He was like a wounded child, a defective human being," Berrill says now. "Not psychotic, but someone whose impulse control was poor. He's manipulative. I wouldn't put money on anything he says."
Reyes made at least one trip through Central Park between the night he raped the jogger and his return this spring. In August 1989, he was arrested in the lobby of a building at Lexington and East 91st. From there, detectives drove him to the office of the Sex Crimes unit, inside the 20th Precinct on West 82nd. The police car crossed through Central Park. Sitting in the backseat, looking out the windows at the park on both sides of him, did Reyes worry that the cops would link him to the jogger case? Or did he think, They grabbed those other five suckers -- at least I got away with one?
Did the notion flicker through his warped mind that maybe he should take credit for the jogger attack, too?
He might have spared a whole city -- and perhaps five particular teenagers -- years of pain. But instead he kept his secret, because Matias Reyes had no conscience. What's hardest to believe in this long and sad saga is that he's grown one now.
Matias is escorted out of 20th precinct after being charged with murder and rape.