Jessica Bains said she thought nothing of a scuffle she heard in the apartment above hers early Sunday morning. Later, she would find out that a man had been killed and stuffed in a trunk, and that neighbors saw it happen and didn’t call police.
Mostapha Maarouf, a 27-year-old Moroccan immigrant, was badly beaten by four attackers and then dumped in the trunk of his own taxi cab as people watched from the safety of their apartments.
“A man died yesterday because people were too tired or too scared to get involved,” Bains said Monday.
Police were still trying to determine Monday where the victim was beaten and the time of death.
Initially, police said witnesses saw Maarouf being beaten in a parking lot, dragged by his feet and thrown in the trunk and that no one called 911. But later they confirmed that they received two calls: one from the taxi driver’s friend who was at the scene around 3 a.m. Sunday and one from a neighbor.
However, police said the neighbor waited about 40 minutes before coming forward and telling police where to find the body. They also said at least four others saw the fight and didn’t call police.
Only when police went door-to-door did residents start talking - nearly an hour later. By that time, Maarouf was dead.
Police said the fight may have started over a parking space in front of an apartment building two blocks from the University of Denver, a middle-class neighborhood with a mix of professionals and students.
Christopher Buchanan of Denver was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder and ordered held without bond Monday. Police were still looking for the other three suspects.
The first reports of the beating death drew comparisons to the 1964 murder of bartender Kitty Genovese in the New York City borough of Queens.
Her death became a symbol of urban apathy after 38 neighbors heard her screams and did nothing to help as she was stabbed to death.
Robert Stawinski climbed out of his Yellow Cab the day after the slaying as neighbors peered from behind curtains. Stawinski said he drove to the apartment complex where Maarouf was killed to pay his respects.
He said he wanted to give Maarouf’s friend $20 to ship his body home to his tiny hometown of Youssofia, Morocco.
“I didn’t think people in Colorado could be this way,” he said, shaking his head. “All this over a parking spot. That was uncalled for, to beat someone to death over a parking spot.”