The New York Underground Murders were a series of killings that took place on Manhattan in New York City. The murders were centered around the tunnels underneath Central Park and many of the victims were homeless.
The first murder in the series to come to public attention was that of Pamela Wisher, a young socialite. Her body and that of an unknown man were found in the Humboldt Kill by police divers. The man's body was grotesquely deformed and both bodies were missing the head and showed signs of having been chewed. Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta of the New York Police Department was assigned to the case. Acting on a tip from Sergeant Laura Hayward, he connected the murders to a rash of killings that had been targeting New York's underground homeless for several months.
The Wisher bodies were turned over to the New York City Medical Examiner's Office for autopsy. The medical examiner's office proved too public a place for the task, so D'Agosta arranged for the bodies to be transported secretly to a lab at the New York Museum of Natural History. He asked Drs. Whitney Frock and Margo Green (the three had previously worked together on the Museum Beast Murders case) to help Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Simon Brambell. While the scientists worked to identify the unknown corpse, the murders continued unabated.
The MOs of the killings were similar, but not identical. The victims were found in the vicinity of Central Park, either underground or in out-of-the-way areas accessible from the train tunnels. The victims were mutilated with crude weapons and almost always decapitated. In cases where the head was found, the skull was often smashed open. D'Agosta soon began to suspect that multiple killers were involved, a suspicion that was confirmed when a subway car stalled in a tunnel was attacked. From the footprints at the scene D'Agosta estimated that six to ten attackers had been involved. The lone survivor, Mrs. Alberta Muñoz, described her assailants as having "old faces", "lizard eyes" and stone knives.
After several weeks and the death of Dr. Brambell in an apparent mugging, Green and Frock discovered that the man found with Pamela Wisher was their former co-worker, scientist Greg Kawakita.
This discovery cracked the case. Green tracked Kawakita's final months and found that the not only were the Wrinklers real, they were Kawakita's creation. He had been selling a drug created from an extract of the Mbwun Lily, which was known to have transformative effects on humans. Kawakita had been trying to refine the negative side effects from the drug, but he failed and the unfortunate users became violent, feral and deformed. They became extremely sensitive to light and retreated underground, where their skin became pale and slack from Vitamin D deficiency. They exhibited the early stages of transformation into Mbwun and their eyes became slitted and reptilian.
As Kawakita began to succumb to the drug, he lost control of his creations. He secretly approached his former mentor, Dr. Whitney Frock, and persuaded him to help. The two created a tea ceremony-like ritual to attempt to control the Wrinklers, but Frock betrayed him and the Wrinklers killed him and Wisher and threw them into a storm drain.
Special Agent Pendergast of the FBI descended into the Astor Tunnels where the Wrinklers made their home. He witnessed one of their rituals, timed to coincide with the full moon when the light-sensitive Wrinklers were unable to venture to the surface. The NYPD devised a plan to flood the tunnels by overfilling the Central Park Reservoir.
Green, D'Agosta, and Special Agent Pendergast discovered that the Wrinklers had planted a colony of Mbwun Lilies in the reservoir. They warned the police that flooding the reservoir would wash the lily into the ocean, causing potentially disastrous ecological effects, but it was too late to stop the flood.
A team of Navy SEALs were dispatched to the Lower Hudson Sewage Treatment Plant. They were to enter the storm drains and blow up the tunnel entrances to prevent the flood water escaping into the ocean until a vegetation killer could take effect. While entering the tunnels through a sewage treatment plant, the SEALs encountered a group of wrinklers, who attacked them. The SEALs achieved their mission but died in the process. Only their NYPD diver guide, Officer Snow, survived.
Meanwhile, Pendergast, D'Agosta, and homeless community leader Mephisto went down into the Astor Tunnels to blow up the tunnels and make sure the Wrinklers could not escape. The Wrinklers, assembled for a ritual, captured them as they set the last charges. Snow, attempting to escape the Wrinklers at the sewage treatment plant, met up with the group. Mephisto detonated an antipersonnel mine, killing himself and Frock and allowing the others to get away. Margo delayed the Wrinklers further by spraying concentrated Vitamin D, which burned their skin. The charges went off, trapping the Wrinklers in the Astor Tunnels, which soon flooded. With the Wrinklers dead, the murders came to an end.
- Pamela Wisher
- Greg Kawakita
- Shasheen Walker
- Nick Bitterman
- Dr. Simon Brambell
- Bill Trumbull, Jim Kolb and seven other passengers and staff on a late-night subway train
- Various members of the Route 666 Community, including Joe Atcitty, "Fat Boy", "Hector", "Dark Annie", and "Master Sergeant"
- Dozens of other underground homeless
- Police Captain Jack Waxie
- Members of a Navy SEAL team including Carlin, Rachlin, Beal, and Donovan, sent to destroy the tunnels leading from the Central Park Reservoir into the Humboldt Kill