“You’re the first man I’ve seen raped in Central Park”
Tall (1.95 in/6 ft 5 in) and good-looking, Robert Chambers (born 25 September 1966) was used to New York women falling at his feet. A former altar boy, he won a scholarship to a prep school but suffered because he felt inadequate among his wealthier classmates and took to stealing and taking drugs.
He spent one term at Boston University before being asked to leave over a stolen credit card. He was a regular at a bar called Dorrian’s Red Hand at 1616 Second Avenue and 300 East 84th Street, Manhattan. He also had more brushes with the law for disorderly conduct, petty thefts and burglaries.
He lived with his mother, Phyllis Shanley, a nurse. On the night of 25 August 1986 he was at Dorrian’s Red Hand when his girlfriend Alex Kapp dumped him. Undeterred, Chambers left the bar that night with an ex, 18-year-old Jennifer Levin.
The next day Miss Levin’s corpse was discovered behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her bra and blouse had been pushed up about her neck and her skirt was around her waist. Her knickers were found 46 m (50 yd) away. Her body was covered in bites, cuts and bruises.
An autopsy revealed that she had died of “asphyxia by strangulation”. Bruises on her neck came from both her attacker’s hands and her own as she attempted to pull his fingers away from her throat. Chambers was questioned as he had left the bar with Miss Levin and tried to pass off the scratches on his face and arms as being inflicted by his cat.
After changing his tale several times, he settled on one where he went to the park with 1.63 m (5 ft 4 in) tall Miss Levin who had tied his hands with her knickers and then roughly manipulated his genitalia during sex, which caused him to push her off, and she fell awkwardly. Assistant District Attorney Saracco said to Chambers, “I’ve been in this business for a while, and you’re the first man I’ve seen raped in Central Park.”
When his father came to visit, Chambers said, “That fucking bitch, why didn’t she leave me alone?” Chambers was tried on two counts of second-degree murder. The jury failed to reach a decision for nine days and Chambers pleaded guilty to the lesser crime of manslaughter in the first degree and was jailed for 5-15 years.
Central Park at Fifth Avenue and 83rd Street, New York City, USA
Tuesday 26 August 1986
Chambers was released on 14 February 2003. On 29 November 2004 he was charged with possession of heroin and cocaine and some motoring infractions. On 29 August 2005 he was sentenced to 90 days in prison and fined S200. On 22 October 2007 he and girlfriend Shawn Kovell were arrested for selling cocaine from their home. His lawyer claimed that Chambers had been an addict since he was 14 and was using around a dozen bags of heroin a day. On 2 September 2008 he was sentenced to 19 years in prison for selling drugs.