11 Hospitalized in Encounter with Nauseatingly Affectionate Couple
Jose Ruiz Menendez, 28, and his girlfriend, Sara Murphy, 24, were arrested late this morning on Fifth Avenue, allegedly following a cloying display of hand-holding, nuzzling, repeated pecks on the cheeks, and multiple counts of loving head-on-partner’s-shoulder caressing. As a result of the couple’s actions, 11 people were sent to Belleview Hospital, with a further nineteen treated by paramedics at the scene.
According to preliminary police reports, the couple were walking south along the east side of Fifth Avenue at about 10:30 AM when Murphy, walking alongside Menendez, grasped his arm and inclined her head tightly against it, continuing in that position for about eight yards, according to eyewitnesses. The resulting disgust caused three people to succumb to nausea and three others to reel around to escape the sight, slightly injuring six.
As Menendez and Murphy proceeded south, they apparently remained oblivious to the mayhem they fomented. Menendez kissed Murphy on the top of her head several times and murmured lovingly to her as they waited to cross 38th Street, causing an elderly woman to clutch her chest, having suffered a mild heart attack. She was listed in stable condition as of about noon.
When the couple stopped to sit on a bench near 36th St., Murphy sat on Menendez’s lap as the two exchanged embraces, kisses, affectionate strokes of the hair, shoulders, back, and arms, as well as words of devotion and mutual care. This further display resulted in several more victims, at least one of them admitted to the hospital’s trauma unit. A bystander notified the police, who arrested the two perpetrators at the scene.
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly told reporters that New York has seen its share of similar crimes, but the department must remain vigilant, as this case clearly demonstrates. “According to the information we have right now, the two suspects were engaging in sickening displays in broad daylight. Neither of them has any criminal record, but our officers continue to be on the lookout for such crimes.” He dismissed reports that a police officer had failed to report the couple upon seeing them holding hands and smiling as far north as 45th St., noting that the first recorded incidence of disgust occurred significant to the south of that location, and that the first eyewitnesses placed Menendez and Murphy on 44th between Fifth and Sixth before they were even observed on Fifth, making the former report unlikely.
According to NYPD statistics for 2012, 12 couples were arrested for Public Displays of Affection, a decrease of 3 since 2011, which in turn saw a reduction of 2 in 2010. The statistics spiked in fall 2009, possibly as a result of the Yankees World Series title, but that remains conjecture.
Menendez and Murphy were unavailable for comment, and their attorneys declined to comment for this article.