Notorious strip club killer could be freed this month

12/08/2011 8:00 AM |

COURTESY PHOTO | The former Crazy Clown in Wading River.

A Calverton man convicted more than 25 years ago of the brutal murder and attempted rape of a bartender at the old Crazy Clown topless bar in Wading River could soon be released from prison.

Thomas Greene, 49, is up for parole Dec. 19 after serving more than 25 years for bludgeoning Yvonne Hogan to death with the jagged leg of a bar stool in the early morning hours of June 21, 1983.

Ms. Hogan was alone at the bar with Mr. Greene just before closing when, according to testimony in his 1986 trial, he beat her about the head and torso with the bar stool and its shattered parts.

Mr. Greene was convicted of the murder and attempted rape of the 29-year-old bartender — as well as burglary in connection with a separate incident — in June 1986, and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

He was first eligible for parole in January 2010, but was denied after New York State parole commissioner Sally Thompson ruled Mr. Greene’s release would be “incompatible with the safety and welfare of the community.”

“During your interview you demonstrated limited insight into the causes of your criminality,” Ms. Thompson wrote in her decision, detailed in a transcript of Mr. Greene’s first parole hearing released by the New York State Division of Parole. “Your actions displayed a propensity for extreme violence and a depraved indifference for human life.”

Despite maintaining his innocence throughout his trial 25 years ago, Mr. Greene answered “yes,” when asked during the January 2010 hearing if he is guilty of murder.

“I overreacted horribly,” Mr. Greene said. “I got angry because I thought I had been taken advantage of, and I got angry and I hit her.”

Mr. Greene would go on to tell the parole board that the anger he displayed that night developed inside him over time, according to the transcript.

Thomas Greene

“I had been drunk for a long time and everything in my life was all messed up,” he said. “It was my own fault, but at the time I didn’t have the maturity to take a look at myself and the drinking to recognize that it was my own doing. Over time I guess I just kept getting frustrated and angry with everything that was going on in my life.”

Ms. Hogan’s body was found the following morning by the owner of the bar, according to an article in the April 11, 1985, issue of the Riverhead News-Review, published two days after Mr. Greene was arrested. The young killer had continued to live on Calverton Road, about a mile from the crime scene, for nearly two years after the murder.

Police finally caught up to Mr. Greene after testimony from a pair of neighbors linked him to the slaying. A key piece of evidence was a bloody leg from the bar stool found in a wooded area between the bar and the home Greene shared with his brother, Richard, who, according to testimony in the 1986 trial, had been with him inside the Crazy Clown earlier on the night of the killing. Investigators linked a palm print on the stool leg to Mr. Greene.

Attorney Steven Wilutis of Miller Place said he still remembers the Greene case, which he prosecuted while working as an assistant district attorney in the homicide bureau.

“It was one of the most brutal crime scenes I’ve ever visited,” he recalled in an interview last week. “It was horrible. The amount of blood and what this woman went through in her final moments, just horrible.”

At the 2010 parole hearing, which took place at Groveland Correctional Facility, the board said it received letters of support for Mr. Greene’s release from his family. And Mr. Greene said he had employment waiting for him, should he be released from Groveland.

Asked during the hearing if he wanted to give a closing statement, Mr. Greene said he was sorry for the crime he committed.

“I’m deeply ashamed and sorry about the things I have done,” he said. “I know I do not speak well, it’s just not something I’m good at. But I don’t want you people to think that I’m immune — that I don’t feel deeply about this in any way. I am, in fact, really sorry.”

The Hogan slaying is not the only murder committed at the Crazy Clown, which was leveled soon after it closed in the early 1990s. Former WWF wrestler Mark Tendler was killed by a gunshot wound to the head as he sat in his car in the parking lot of the bar in February 1990. Mr. Tendler, who had wrestled on cards with the likes of Andre the Giant and was even once featured in People magazine, was looking to purchase the topless bar at the time he was killed. His murder was never solved.

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