4. Tompkins Square Park is Involved in a Gruesome Murder

By the 1980s, Tompkins Square Park was a high-crime area that was filled with encampments of homeless people. It was the site of illicit drug deals and violence, sparked, in many instances, by riots between political activists and law enforcement. Arising out of the framework of New York City’s provocative history is the gruesome murder of Monika Beerle who was killed and dismembered by ex-lover Daniel Rakowitz, a marijuana dealer and self-proclaimed cannibal, nicknamed “The Butcher of Tompkins Square.” According to reports, Rakowitz had made soup out of Beerle’s body by boiling her head and brains, which he proceeded to serve to the homeless in Tompkins Square Park.

In light of his confession, Rakowitz was arrested but was found not guilty of the 1989 murder by reasons of insanity. Since the conclusion of the first trial in 1991, he has been living in Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center on New York City’s Wards Island. In 2004, another jury found Rakowitz no longer dangerous but decided that he was still mentally ill and should remain institutionalized.