Relatives and friends mourn senseless killing of Warwick High School graduate

| 15 Feb 2012 | 11:21

WARWICK — Early on Saturday morning, Jan. 14, Kevin Kless, 23, a 2006 graduate of Warwick Valley High School and a 2010 Temple University graduate, was beaten to death in the Old City historic district of Philadelphia by three men who apparently believed, mistakenly, that Kless had yelled at them in traffic. Kless, the son of John Kless of Highland Falls and Kendall Kless of Warwick, was living in Philadelphia and working at Marsh, an insurance-brokering and risk-management company. At approximately 2:30 a.m., Kless, his girlfriend, and another female friend had just left a local restaurant and lounge and were hailing a cab. Investigators reported that Kless had flagged a cab whose lights were on, signaling it was free. The driver, however, refused the fare and Kless shouted to him angrily that he should turn off his lights. At the same time, police said, four men in a maroon sedan pulled up a few cars down. According to the investigators, two of the men in the car apparently thought Kless was yelling at them, jumped out, and rushed the young man without warning. A third man from the car joined in the severe attack. Kless never regained consciousness and died hours later at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. When his parents and two older brothers arrived at the hospital, they learned Kevin was dead. On Tuesday evening, Linda Schmidt of Channel 5 Fox News reported the story from Warwick's Main Street. The segment, broadcast shortly after 10 p.m., included a telephone interview with Kendall Kless in which she tearfully said, "How do you watch someone get pummeled to death on the sidewalk in front of you? I'm burying my 23-year-old son for no reason. There were passers by and they did nothing. How can people do that?" For those old enough to remember it was a scene reminiscent of the famous 1964 case of Catherine “Kitty” Genovese, a young woman who yelled for help for 35 minutes as she was stabbed to death outside of her Queens apartment building with not one person coming to her aid. The New York Times article at that time, although later criticized for some inaccuracies, spawned the term, “Kitty Genovese Syndrome,” to describe public apathy to a crime. In response to Kendall Kless’s question, Channel 5 interviewed several people on the streets of Philadelphia. One woman simply stated, "They're afraid." Another, a young man, answered, "They don't want to be asked questions by the police and they don't want to get involved in general." On Monday Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter called Kendall Kless. "We're deeply sorry. We're in pain," he said. "We'll do our best to get the people who did this, because there's no explaining what they did." The City of Philadelphia and the Fraternal Order of Police are offering a $15,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the attackers. Kendall Kless described her son as a very social person with a huge circle of friends who have been offering condolences. "It's what is holding us up right now," she said. The obituary for Kevin Kless appears on page 22. Editor's note: Sources of this report included The Associated Press, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Channel 5 Fox News.