POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — On August 2, 1992, New York State Police brought Nathaniel White in for questioning, picking him up at the suggestion of the mother and sisters of Angelina Hopkins, a 23-year-old who had gone missing.
Hopkins had disappeared on July 20 along with her cousin, Brenda Whiteside, 20, after leaving the Blue Note Tavern with an unknown male.
Angelina’s family searched for her relentlessly, asking questions everywhere. Eventually, they came face-to-face with the man who was last seen with the young women — Nathaniel White, a 32-year-old ex-con who had been suspected in a 1988 murder. White had also recently been accused of child abuse, and got out of jail on parole after doing just a one-year stretch for abducting a 16-year-old girl.
Once in custody, White blurted out that he had, indeed, fatally bludgeoned both Hopkins and Whiteside, in addition to also executing four more females in the Hudson Valley area. He also said that “voices” drove him to kill and, at first, he was just imitating the movie RoboCop 2.
In the wake of White’s arrest, Captain Donald Briggs of the Poughkeepsie PD publicly thanked the Hopkins family for leading the cops to him, saying, “They did good police work. If it wasn’t for them, this wouldn’t be solved.”
Nathaniel White had committed violent crimes throughout much of his life. Police arrested him often. In 1986, White got a nine-year sentence for robbery, but was out on parole after three. Shortly thereafter, he kidnapped a teenager, got busted, and was headed back to prison.While awaiting his latest incarceration in 1991, White upped his transgressions to homicide. He stabbed Juliana Frank, 29, who was pregnant with her third child, and dumped her naked body on railroad tracks in Middletown, New York.
From there, White did a year in lock-up, and then almost immediately returned to killing. On July 1, 1992, White slaughtered Christine Klebbe, the 14-year-old niece of his girlfriend. Nine days later, Laurette Huggins Rivere, who had three children, succumbed to White’s blade inside her apartment.
In the early hours of July 30, White lethally knifed Adriane Hunter, a 27-year-old mom of two (the youngest of whom was four months old). That night, White picked up and murdered Angelina Hopkins, who also had two kids, along with Brenda Whiteside, a nursing student.
Without the subsequent diligence of Angelina’s family members in finding her killer, White seems likely to have continued his horrific streak.
Now, about RoboCop. In his confession, White told detectives:
“The first girl I killed was from a ‘RoboCop’ movie… I seen him cut somebody’s throat then take the knife and slit down the chest to the stomach and left the body in a certain position. With the first person I killed I did exactly what I saw in the movie.”
At his trial for all six murders, Nathaniel White pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. It didn’t fly. On April 14, 1993, a jury convicted White on every count. Judge Jeffrey Berry sentenced him to 150 years in jail.
The entire tragedy fired up debates among politicians and the public about parole policies. Later in 1993, George Pataki defeated Mario Cuomo to become governor of New York, running on a platform that included reinstating capital punishment. Talk of Nathaniel White — and his victims — came up often on the campaign trail.
Main photos: Nathaniel White [New York State Department of Corrections] / “RoboCop 2” movie poster [promotional image]