Brooklyn Thrill Killers

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The District Attorney holds up the bullwhip used by the three boys behind him, in one of the attacks
The boys, handcuffed, alongside the corpse of Willard Mellard

The Brooklyn Thrill Killers were a gang of Jewish teenage boys who, in the summer of 1954, killed two men (one by drowning, the other by beating) and tortured several others in Brooklyn, a borough of New York City.[1]

The Brooklyn Thrill Killers were:

  • Robert Trachtenberg
  • Jack Koslow
  • Melvin Mittman
  • Jerome Lieberman

According to a 1954 article in Time Magazine, one of the boys turned State's evidence and another had the charges against him dismissed. The other two boys, aged 17 and 18, were found guilty of felony murder during the act of kidnapping because one victim had been dragged several blocks before being thrown in the river. This allowed the jury to suggest life in prison rather than send two youths to the electric chair. While Time didn't identify any of the boys, one of the two sentenced to life in prison was 18-year-old Jack Koslow, identified by AP reports at the time as the 'brains' of the group.

Dr. Fredric Wertham cited the Thrill Killers as an example of the potential harm caused by comic books.[2] Specifically, a comic book named Nights of Horror was brought as evidence of Jack Koslow's "sexual perversions", and used to convict him and Mittman of their crimes.[2]


Derek Davidson and Paul Franco wrote and directed a 1999 short film about the events surrounding the incident and starring Chip Zien, Anne Meara, and Dan Fogler.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ “Thrill Killers”, Time, 27 December 1954.
  2. ^ a b Secret Identity by Craig Yoe, published April 2009
  3. ^ "MMAVERICK MOGUL INSPIRES FILM FEST". Charlotte Observer. July 15, 2000. (Subscription required (help)).