Essay: The Freedom of the Damned

Not long before dawn on Aug. 26, Robert E. Chambers Jr., 19, and Jennifer Dawn Levin, 18, strolled into New York City's Central Park behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Something happened between them. Chambers allegedly strangled Levin, then remained nearby as morning rose and the body was discovered and removed. Even shockproof New York sat up straight and stared. Something about a killing on a summer night in the park, the brooding sweetness of the shadowed grass. Something more about two upper-middle-class teenagers walking casually into a nightmare reserved for naturalistic American novels: sensational grief, sensational murder trial, relentless public...

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