George Whitmore, Jr.

Kings County, New York
Date of Crime:  April 23, 1964

After Elba Borrereo, a twenty-year-old practical nurse from Puerto Rico, was assaulted, Police Officer Frank Isola heard her scream and fired warning shots at the fleeing assailant. Five hours later Isola encountered George Whitmore, Jr. on the street, but concluded that Whitmore was shorter and thinner than the assailant. However, the next day, Isola and a detective spotted Whitmore again and took him to the precinct station for questioning. At the station Borrereo viewed Whitmore through a peephole and identified him as the man who tried to rape her. She had earlier only stated that the assailant tried to snatch her purse. Whitmore had in his possession a picture of a young woman that a detective identified as Janice Wylie.  Wylie, 21, and Emily Hoffert, 23, had been stabbed to death 8 months previously in the apartment they shared on the East Side of Manhattan. Wylie was a Newsweek magazine researcher and Hoffert was a teacher. Newsweek offered a $10,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the murderer or murderers.

Police then interrogated Whitmore for 26 hours and got him to sign a 61-page confession admitting to the Aug 28, 1963 murders of Wylie and Hoffert. The confession also admitted to the April 14, 1964 Brownsville murder of Minnie Edmonds, as well as the April 23 attempted rape of Borrereo, also in Brownsville. In November, Whitmore was tried and convicted of the assault and attempted rape of Borrereo. In deliberations, one of the jurors stated, “This is nothing compared to what he is going to get in New York,” referring to Whitmore's indictment in the Wylie-Hoffert murders. In Jan. 1965, the photo found on Whitmore was found not to be of Wylie, but instead was determined to be that of a Wildwood, New Jersey woman. In addition, an alternate suspect was charged with the Wylie-Hoffert murders and Whitmore was absolved of the crime.

In April, Whitmore was tried for the Edmonds murder. Whitmore testified that his confession was beaten out of him. The trial ended in a hung jury. Fourteen months later, a judge dismissed the indictment against Whitmore for the Edmonds murder. In March 1966, Whitmore was retried for the Borrereo crime and convicted again. The judge allowed evidence of Whitmore's confession to the Borrereo crime, but barred evidence of his false confession to the Wylie-Hoffert murders.

In March 1967, Whitmore's conviction for the Borrereo crime was overturned for a second time because the trial court refused to allow cross-examination with reference to all of the defendant's statements to the police, including those related to the Wylie-Hoffert murders. At Whitmore's third trial, his confession was ruled inadmissible, because he had not been Mirandized. Whitmore was again convicted, but solely because of the victim's identification. In Dec. 1972, Borrereo's sister came forward with an affidavit stating that before Borrereo identified Whitmore, police had shown her a photo array and she had identified another person as her assailant. Based on this affidavit, a judge released Whitmore in April 1973 at the request of the Brooklyn DA.  [9/07]


Reference:  Center on Wrongful Convictions

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Brooklyn-Queens-Staten Island Cases