Being Jennifer Levin’s Mother

I grew up in the same building that Jennifer Levin’s mother lived in. Do you remember Jennifer Levin? She was the 18-year-old girl who was murdered by Robert Chambers in the late ‘80’s – in New York City. I think it was April of 1988.

I remember I had won a place in a modeling competition. My mother had entered me into this contest in the newspaper, and I was one of 15 girls from around the country who was asked to participate!!! Yes!! I received a round trip ticket to NEW YORK CITY and a 5-day 5-night stay at a 5-star hotel in NEW YORK CITY!

Only problem (for me) was… I am from NEW YORK CITY.

I participated anyway. My mother and I were taking the town car they had sent for us uptown to the 5-star hotel when the report came on the radio that this young woman, Jennifer Levin had been found in Central Park – raped and strangled by her own underwear. I was 13 at the time, and that report petrified me. It sent chills through me.

Well, of course, we followed the story as the months passed and Robert Chambers became the PREPPY KILLER.

I remember the videotape re-run on “A Current Affair” every night of him twisting a doll’s head off and him making some weird voice about, “I’m going to kill you!” I remember he abruptly pleaded guilty after a somewhat short trial and went away for manslaughter.

And I remember thinking she was only five years older than me.

Some years later her mother moved into our apartment complex, and I recognized her from TV. My neighbors would whisper in the grocery store,

“That’s Jennifer Levin’s mother. The girl who was killed in Central Park… She lives here now. Oh my God. Poor woman.”

She looked tired. She looked so sad. She looked lost. She did not look strong. She did not look ready to fight. She did not look angry. She looked defeated.

I saw her enough to eventually exchange small smiles and even by the end of my time living in NYC we said hello to one another. I eventually came to know her as Ellen. I wondered if I was close enough to her daughter’s age that maybe I reminded her of Jennifer? I’m sure most girls around 15-20 at that time reminded her of Jennifer.

I thought about Jennifer Levin’s mother a lot. Every time I saw her, I wondered what it was like to be her… to be Jennifer Levin’s mother? I couldn’t imagine back then when I was… 16, 17, 18, 19… if I grew up and had a daughter and she grew up to be pretty and full of life, and someone deranged took her out into the dark, cold, wet grass in Central Park and murdered her in that way… what I would do?

Would I be able to do what this woman was doing? Get up every morning, walk to the corner store, buy a coffee and exist? No… if I didn’t have any other children – I’d jump off a roof.

That type of pain is too much to bear. Why stay here? Why stay here and think about it every day? Why… I wouldn’t! She was so much braver than I would ever be. I still feel that way today.

The last time I saw her… I signed a petition to keep Robert Chambers in jail. I know he was released and got arrested again and is back in jail now.

The reason I’m writing about this in nearly 2017 is because… I grew up… and I have three daughters of my own now.

One who is 15. Three years short of Jennifer Levin’s age when she was murdered.

And I heard the Trump/Bush tapes… where the Presidential candidate says that because he is a “star” he can “grab women by their pussies,” and “they let you.” He goes on to say that he “loves beautiful women” and he “kisses them.”

This isn’t “locker room talk” as it’s been coined on social media by most of the men I know. This is a confession – these are the actions this man takes and has taken.

Donald Trump is another Robert Chambers.

He may not have killed anyone… we don’t know, but he’s a predator. He’s rich, self-centered, arrogant, entitled, privileged, white, spoiled and dangerous. He’s a criminal like Chambers I just don’t think Chambers had as much money to get himself out of the trouble he got himself into.

Donald Trump promotes rape culture and Billy Bush re-enforces it by asking the woman Trump has just been preying on if she’d like to give Trump a hug?

Bush is feeding the prey to the predator and liking it.

This is sick.

Both of these men see women as objects, as things to play with and manipulate and hurt and maybe even kill if that’s what happens during the game. We have no worth in their eyes. This makes them extremely dangerous.

This person… Donald Trump can not be our President. He is vile.

I do not want to be Jennifer Levin’s mother.

We already have Brock Turner, as an example that boys should be allowed “a few minutes of action” without consent from the person they are getting the action from to worry about – we certainly do not need a person who would probably back that statement as President.

I need my girls to know that no one ever, in any place, from anywhere, should ever think that they can grab them by any part of their bodies especially not by their private parts.

I also need my girls to know that if anyone ever tries to grab them by any part of their bodies, they have the right to say in a very loud voice,


If the person advances, my girls are to get ready to apply the martial art Krav Maga that they have studied. And if that means breaking the advancing person’s arms, ribs, neck, back, legs, wrists, or FACE… OH WELL.

I do not want to ever be Jennifer Levin’s mother.

If this is the way that men talk… well… then we are going to have to put an end to men speaking this way because there is nothing ok about it.

Men shouldn’t speak this way.

Let’s teach them to respect themselves. Let’s educate them and show them there are more important things to discuss in a locker room besides women’s vaginas.

Let’s take this opportunity to change the way in which women are discussed by men. And then maybe there will be fewer and fewer mother’s in the world like Jennifer Levin’s.

I saw her.

I watched her.

I spoke with her.

It’s a shame to say but almost 30 years later, with Trump as our President and an example to young men everywhere more of us than ever will wind up being Jennifer Levin’s mother. She deserved so much better.

We deserve so much better. Please think about it.

Photo Credit: AnxiousNut Flickr via Compfight cc


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