Friday, September 15, 2017
After 9/11, the cameras went up. New York City, like everywhere else, was on its way to becoming a full-time surveillance environment anyway, but the nightmare of that day accelerated the trend. In addition to the multitude the NYPD monitored, they were attached to every business, school and residential building–unblinking, 24/7 observers of endless ATM transactions, street traffic, and quiet opulence in the right apartment lobby.
The last one to capture the slender, coiffed image of Kimberly Hadley in the final moments before her life was shattered was from such a lobby. The building, called The Vernon, was in SoHo, on a quiet, brick-paved section of Wooster Street. Fastened on the wall across from the doorman’s desk, the camera recorded the small but sleek, dark accented lobby, with its black marble floor gleaming beneath the polished mahogany desk.
Passing in front of it at 10:54 p.m., with their backs to the camera, were Kim Hadley and Kevin Dunaway, her dinner companion. Dunaway lived in the building and paused momentarily at the desk to ask for an expected envelope. The doorman, a friendly, perpetually smiling man named Gavin, dug it out from somewhere on the desk and handed it to him. Kim and Kevin then disappeared around a corner toward the elevators. Kevin led the way, with Kim following close behind.
The next camera to capture Kim Hadley, crawling and bleeding profusely from her mouth and nose, an eye-socket nearly fractured and her skirt torn at the waist, was mounted outside and pointed toward a narrow, time-beaten alley to the left (if someone were looking out) of the building’s glass front doors. Another doorman, Luis, had relieved Gavin at 11:00 p.m. Luis monitored a group of four cameras that recorded different areas in and around The Vernon. He was watching the Mets game on his iPhone with half a hoagie in his mouth when movement on the alley camera caught his eye. At first, he thought he was seeing an animal, a dog maybe, hobbling along on a bad leg. Then he spit out his sandwich, dropped his phone on the desk and sprinted out the door.
“Miss?” she heard. Still on her hands and knees, she turned toward the voice, one eye open. Another doorman, she thought. Not the first one. She saw his eyes widen in shock and horror. “Miss, can you hear me?”
“Yeah,” she said, a guttural croak. “I’m okay. I just … need a cab.” She was dragging her bag behind her with her left arm. Her right hand was gripping the pavement, moving in time with her knees as she edged herself toward the curb. Her hands were small and delicate, and immaculately manicured.
“I think you need an ambulance. Do you think you can walk? I’ll have you wait in the lobby while I call one. We should call the police.”
“No police,” she said, lifting her right hand painfully in the air as if warding something off. “Please. No police. No ambulance. I just need a taxi.”
“Miss, I really can’t do that. Please … if I can just help you up, I’ll …”
“I called 9-1-1 already,” another man called out from across the street. He was huffing and puffing, striding across the street toward them. Kim saw him with the one eye she could see out of and grimaced. He was older, maybe fifty-five or sixty, white-haired and stately looking, and holding his cell phone. Like the doorman, he wore a look of horror and disgust. “They should be here any minute. I don’t think she should try to move.”
“I need to leave here,” she said, still garbled but a little clearer. She was forcing clarity into her voice the same way she was forcing it back into her thoughts. She had hoped the alley would be a good way to get out of the building unseen. Apparently not. “No police. No ambulance. Please.”
“She’s probably in shock,” the older man said to the doorman, as if she wasn’t in their presence. He was dressed in slacks and a fine silk sweater with a collared shirt underneath. Kim recognized the make of shirt from the pattern—a top-of-the-line British brand.
“No, I’m not,” she said, finally getting to her feet. She was maybe five-foot-three, thin with narrow shoulders. “Not in shock. I’m okay. Now please, if you want to help me, hail a cab.”
“Absolutely not,” the old man said with an air of authority she found unsurprising. “Young lady, just stay where you are.” Then she heard them. Sirens. At least two cars, coming around the corner at Spring Street, from the west. Kim summoned the remainder of her strength, now upright on wobbly legs, clutching her skirt with one hand to keep it from sliding off her frame. She could see a few other people, drawn from Spring Street by the ruckus but keeping their distance. No one appeared to be filming or snapping photos of her yet. But all of them, as far as she could see, were holding smart phones and staring at her intently. It was only a matter of time.
She turned and stared back down the alley, past the side door she had stumbled out of after her escape from Kevin. New construction had opened the alley temporarily through to West Broadway. She hadn’t wanted to go that way as West Broadway was lined with high-end shops, bars and restaurants and was likely to have more foot traffic, especially around midnight on a cool and pleasant Friday night. In this moment, though, she simply couldn’t stay where she was. As the first blue lights strafed the building tops on Wooster Street and the sirens screamed louder, Kim turned and bolted down the alley and out of sight.