Hit & Run

The Good Old Days


Sarah Ferguson remembers Daniel Rakowitz, the "small-time pot-peddler from Texas [who] allegedly butchered his roommate, a Swiss dance student named Monika Beerle, then served her remains as soup to the homeless":

Back in 1989, Rakowitz stood out as a freak among freaks. He told people he was the "New Lord" and carried a pet rooster on his shoulder and a copy of "Mein Kampf" in a lunchbox. Even the local die-hard pot activists say they took to avoiding him. Former 9th Precinct commander Michael Julian told me he recalls Rakowitz making off-handed threats to "cut the cops' heads off" during demonstrations in Tompkins Square. But in those days, a slogan like "Mug a Yuppie" was common. "It was hard to distinguish the real stuff from theater," Julian said.

Perhaps that helps explain why in August 1989, when I called the precinct to report rumors swirling in the park that Rakowitz had decapitated a woman in his apartment and left her head in a pot on the stove, the detective I spoke to laughed and hung up the phone.

But talk of the murder festered in the East Village, and several weeks later, I ran into Rakowitz on 43rd Street carrying a bucket -- the same bucket in which he'd placed Beerle's skull and bones. Of course, I didn't know that at the time.