New York’s Nightmare: The Ghastly Tale of the Butcher of Tompkins Square Park, Daniel Rakowitz

Jonathan Harker
5 min readJun 5

On August 17, 1983, amidst the hustle and bustle of Thompkins Square Park, Daniel Rakowitz engaged in a chilling conversation with his friend, Sylvia. The subject? A plan to murder Monika Beerle, Rakowitz’s roommate and occasional romantic interest.

A Troubled Past: The Early Life of Daniel Rakowitz

Born on Christmas Eve in 1960, Daniel Rakowitz had a turbulent childhood in Victoria, Texas. He was orphaned at two when his mother died, an event that marked the onset of his troubled relationship with his father, Tony Rakowitz, a deputy in their small Texas town. This tumultuous relationship was characterized by conflicts and transgressions, often culminating in bouts of violent rage. Rakowitz was known for his hot temper, a trait that frequently landed him in trouble with the law.

Daniel Rakowitz. Source.

“His father was a straight-laced fellow, a real disciplinarian,” Sheriff Robert Hewes of Rockport, Texas, recalled. “But the boy? He was a mental basket case, I guess you’d have to say.”

As a teen, Rakowitz showed signs of psychological instability. His father once found weed on him and booked him for possession, a testament to Tony’s uncompromising law-and-order attitude.

Desperate Times: Daniel’s Life on the Streets of New York

Once in New York, Rakowitz’s life took a nosedive. His status shifted from army-enlistee to homeless vagabond. His attempts at sustaining himself included working as a part-time cook and marijuana dealer. However, his marijuana business was no lifeline, as he often smoked up his inventory. As his life spiraled out of control, he sought solace in companionship, leading him to meet Sylvia.

Jonathan Harker

Hey! My name is Jonathan. I’m a true crime writer and podcast producer.