Calvin Jackson The Park Plaza Serial Killer

Calvin Jackson The Park Plaza Serial Killer

Calvin Jackson The Park Plaza Serial Killer
Calvin Jackson

Calvin Jackson

Born: March 5, 1948

The Park Plaza Serial Killer

American Serial Killer

Crime Spree: 1973–1974

Incarcerated at Sullivan Correctional Facility, New York

Calvin Jackson

Calvin Jackson was born on March 5, 1948. He is an American serial killer, rapist and necrophiliac responsible for the murders of 9 women in Manhattan’s West Side Park Plaza hotel between 1973 and 1974. The killings were connected only after Jackson was arrested and confessed to them. In July 1976, he was convicted and sentenced to four life imprisonment terms with a chance of parole. He could theoretically be eligible for parole in 2030. One of his victims was sculptor Eleanor Platt.

The Early Days

Calvin Jackson was born on March 5, 1948, in Buffalo, New York. He grew up in a poor family, who lived in an urban area populated by other impoverished families. In his teenage years, he became addicted to drugs, and after completing the 10th grade, he dropped out of school and began leading a life of petty crimes. In October 1965, he was arrested for robbery, found guilty and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment.

After being paroled in the late 1960s, Jackson moved to New York City, where he met Valerie Coleman. They married soon after. Due to discipline problems, Calvin had trouble finding, and keeping, a job. He therefore resulted to doing odd jobs, periodically committing thefts in the Manhattan area, for which he was imprisoned on several occasions.

In 1970, he was arrested on charges of drug possession and was convicted and spent 90 days in jail. Over the next three years, Calvin was arrested three more times on charges of drug possession and theft.

In early 1972, Jackson and his partner in crime found accommodation at the Park Plaza Hotel in Manhattan’s West Side which, at the time, was plagued by poverty and crime. Soon after the move, Calvin cleaned himself from his drug addiction and took on a job as a porter at the hotel. Most of his friends and acquaintances at that time spoke extremely positively of him and his live improvement.

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The Park Plaza Hotel

In spite of its pretentious name, the Park Plaza Hotel, on West 77th, was a flea and rat infested establishment catering to mostly single, middle-aged and elderly women, living on meager or fixed incomes. Death was not the most unusual means of checking out of the dilapidated hotel but, in 1973 and 1974, a quiet killer slinked through the dark corridors of the establishment, driving the mortality rate of it’s tenants sky-high.

Calvin Jackson The Park Plaza Serial Killer

As victims, Calvin Jackson chose single women between the ages of 39 and 79. He would break into their small apartments, smother them with a pillow and, after having sex with their corpses, would rob them of their meager possessions. Eight of his nine victims lived in the Park Plaza Hotel.

On April 10, 1973, Calvin broke into the hotel room of 39-year-old Theresa Jordan. He smothered her with a pillow, defiled her corpse and stole her valuables.

On July 19, Calvin reenacted his crime, this time entering the room of 65-year-old Kate Lewisohn. He had bound her hands and feet and tossed her on the bed. He then smothered her, raped her corpse and stole what caught his eye.

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On April 24, 1974, Calvin Jackson broke into the hotel room where 60-year-old Mable Hartmeyer lived. This time however, Calvin strangled the woman. He again raped the corpse, before stealing her money and valuables from her room.

On April 29, just 5 days later, Calvin murdered again. He entered the hotel room of 79-year-old Yeria Vishnefsky, whom he stabbed to death and robbed.

On June 8, Calvin struck again. This time his victim was 47-year-old Winifred Miller, whom he smothered with a pillow, assaulted her corpse and stole her possessions.

On June 19, Jackson also strangled 71-year-old Blanche Vincent on the hotel grounds, after which he raped her dead body.

On July 1, Calvin Jackson entered the hotel room of 69-year-old Martha Carpenter. He repeated his pattern of strangulation, rape and theft.

His next victim was the famous sculptor, 64-year-old Eleanor Platt. She was found dead in her room at the Park Plaza Hotel on August 30.

On September 12, Jackson broke into one of the apartments in a building located next to the Park Plaza Hotel. He entered the room of 69-year-old Pauline Spanierman. Using his usual tactics, he smothered the woman with a pillow, raped her corpse and then stole a number of objects of value from her apartment, including her small television.

A Witness Talks

The body of Calvin Jackson’s last victim was discovered on the morning of September 12, 1974 by a maid, who promptly called the police. While investigating her killing, detectives interviewed dozens of her neighbors and nearby occupants of the Park Plaza Hotel. During these interrogations, several witnesses were located.

One witness stated that in the early morning, around 3 am., he had noticed a young man who, with a TV in his hands, left the house, where the murder had taken place, by way of the fire escape. He had then disappeared into the darkness on the opposite side of the street.

Another witness, a resident of the Park Plaza Hotel, told police that on the morning of that same day, a friend of his, 26-year-old Calvin Jackson, came to his room with a request to leave a number of items of material value, including a TV, for safekeeping. After a search of his hotel room, the TV and other items were identified as Pauline’s. Based on the testimonies and evidence, six hours after the body was discovered, Calvin Jackson was arrested near the hotel, and was charged with murder and burglary.

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Calvin Jackson The Park Plaza Serial Killer

After his arrest, Calvin Jackson readily confessed to the murder of Pauline and nine other murders, stating that he often lingered with his victims for an hour or more, eating food from their refrigerators, watching a while to make sure they were dead. When victims were molested, Jackson promised, he always raped them after death, never before.

Despite the fact that Jackson’s confessions included very descriptive details about the victims’ appearances and the times and dates of their murders, his claims were questioned, since in most cases, no signs of a struggle or burglary were found at the crime scenes.

In order to confirm his testimony, police exhumed the bodies of a number of murdered women so they could examine them and find traces of a homicide, but the test results proved inconclusive. While verifying Jackson’s claims, it was found that two of the women he had confessed to killing were in fact found alive.

However, 90-year-old Maria Gallino, a resident of the Park Plaza Hotel, told police that she was indeed attacked by a young African-American man on April 4, 1973. Another resident, 74-year-old Sylvia Cohen, said that on August 5, during an attempted robbery, she was beaten into unconsciousness by a young black man. After this information was released to the public, several hundred people organized a rally in front of a nearby police station accusing the police of negligent investigation efforts. Law enforcement officials would later confirm that they did not suspect a serial killer was operating in the area and were forced to admit that the cases were connected only after Jackson’s arrest.

Despite the fact that in at least four cases, the investigation was unable to establish signs of a violent death due to the rate of decomposition, Calvin Jackson was charged with 9 murders and about 40 other crimes, including rapes, burglaries and thefts.

On the advice of his lawyer, at the end of 1974, Jackson recanted his confessions and declared that he was insane, on the basis of which his lawyers filed a motion for a psychiatric examination.

Sentencing The Park Plaza Serial Killer

Following two psychiatric examinations, Calvin Jackson was declared insane. This determination however were challenged by the prosecutor’s office. Due to this challenge, Jackson was admitted, in 1975, to the Bellevue Hospital for a third examination. He was declared sane and put on trial in early 1976.

After reading out his 182-page long confession and listening to audio recordings lasting more than 3 hours, Jackson was found guilty of 9 murders and numerous other charges, on May 25, 1976. 

On July 6, 1976, Calvin was sentenced to four life imprisonment terms, with a chance of parole.

With time off for good behavior, Calvin Jackson will theoretically be eligible for parole in 2030.

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