Roseann Quinn (November 17, 1944 – January 2, 1973) was an American schoolteacher in New York City who was brutally murdered in 1973.
Her life inspired Judith Rossner’s 1975 novel Looking for Mr. Goodbar. This was adapted as a 1977 film directed by Richard Brooks and starring Diane Keaton.
Her death also inspired the fictionalized 1977 true crime account Closing Time: The True Story of the “Goodbar” Murder by New York Times journalist Lacey Fosburgh.
Roseann Quinn was born in 1944 in the Bronx to John and Roseann Quinn, Irish Americans. Roseann Quinn had three siblings: two brothers, John and Dennis, and a sister, Donna. When the girl was 11 years old, her family moved to Mine Hill Township, near Dover, New Jersey. John Quinn was an executive with Bell Laboratories in Parsippany-Troy Hills. When she was 13, Quinn spent a year in the hospital recovering from polio, which left her with a slight limp. She attended Morris Catholic High School in Denville, New Jersey, graduating in 1962. Her yearbook said that she was “Easy to meet … nice to know.”
Quinn enrolled in Newark State Teachers College (now Kean University). A classmate said that she had “a terrific sense of humor and was down to earth. She had no phony pretenses. Also, she was very generous. No matter how much she had, if you needed it, she’d share with you.”
Quinn graduated in 1966 and soon moved to New York City, teaching for three years in Newark, New Jersey. In September 1969, she began teaching at St. Joseph’s School for the Deaf in the Bronx, where she taught a class of eight eight-year-olds. Many times, she voluntarily stayed after school to help them, other teachers recalled. “The students loved her,” a spokesman for the school would later say.
By May 1972 she had moved to a studio apartment at 253 West 72nd Street. The building had been known as the Hotel West Pierre before being converted to apartments four years earlier.
According to her acquaintances and neighbors, Quinn would sit by herself and read at bars on the West Side. One witness would later comment, “Something about her made me want to cry.
She could be the most alone-looking person in the world.” Police Captain John M. McMahon later said that “she was an affable, outgoing, friendly girl. Her friends were rather diverse. She knew teachers and artists and her circle of friends was a very large, interracial group … She knew an awful lot of people.” One friend who would later speak to the media said that she struck up a conversation with him by revealing that she had been reading his lips and following a conversation at the other end of the bar that she couldn’t otherwise have heard.
On the evening of New Year’s Day 1973, Quinn went across the street from her apartment to a bar named W. M. Tweeds, where she met John Wayne Wilson. Wilson’s friend, Geary Guest, left around 11:00 p.m., before Wilson met Quinn. Wilson and Quinn went to her apartment, where they smoked marijuana and attempted to have intercourse. As Wilson would later tell his attorney, he was unable to achieve an erection. He claimed that Quinn insulted him and demanded that he leave her apartment, and an argument ensued. After a struggle, Wilson picked up a knife and, according to his police statement, stabbed Quinn 18 times in the neck and abdomen. Wilson alleged that she said to him, “Kill me, kill me please.”
After the murder, he covered Quinn’s body with a bathrobe, showered, and left the apartment. Before leaving, he wiped his fingerprints off the murder weapon, the door knobs and any other surface he might have touched, effectively sanitizing the crime scene. Later that night, Wilson confessed the crime to Geary Guest. Believing that Wilson was making this all up to get a plane ticket home, Geary gave him enough money to leave town. Wilson first flew to Miami to pick up his wife, Candy. They later flew to Indiana.
Quinn’s body was not discovered until the morning of January 3. The authorities at St. Joseph’s School, alarmed that Quinn had not shown up for work in two days or called, sent a teacher to her apartment to check up on her. The building’s superintendent, Amedio Gizzi, let the teacher into the apartment, where they found Quinn’s body. Her 25-year-old brother, John, later identified the body at the morgue.