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July 10, 2023

New HBO docuseries revisits 1990s serial killings of gay men from Philly and N.Y.

The first episode of 'Last Call,' which debuted Sunday, focuses on Peter Stickney Anderson of Philadelphia and Thomas Mulcahy, whose body was found in Burlington County

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Last Call HBO Provided image/HBO

HBO's new four-part docuseries 'Last Call' investigates the "last call killings" of the 1990s. A serial killer targeted gay men at bars in Manhattan, including a banker living in Philadelphia. The LGBTQ community in New York City was frustrated with what it characterized as police inaction over homophobic violence.

HBO's latest docuseries examines a rash of murders in the early '90s known as the "last call killings," as each victim was a picked up in the middle of the night at a gay bar in New York City. The first episode of "Last Call," which premiered Sunday, centers on Peter Stickney Anderson, a banker who lived in Philadelphia at the time of his death, and Thomas Mulcahy, a salesman from Massachusetts whose body was found in Burlington County.

"Last Call" is based on the 2021 nonfiction book of the same name by Elon Green. It covers a period of three years, during which four gay men disappeared from Manhattan, only for their dismembered bodies to be discovered off highways in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. The series interviews investigators who worked on the cases, children and partners of the victims and queer activists who demanded a stronger response to rising hate crimes against the LGBTQ community in the 1990s.

The premiere episode of "Last Call," which aired on Sunday and is now streaming on Max, centers on the first known victims. Anderson, a 54-year-old former investment broker, was the first to go missing on the night of May 3, 1991, after a fundraiser party for his friend Tony Brooks, who was seeking a seat on Philadelphia City Council. Although Anderson had lived and worked in New York City for many years, he was living in Philadelphia at the time (in the Wanamaker House in Rittenhouse Square) and was described as a "Center City socialite" by the Inquirer. A father of two, he was estranged from his second wife and seeking work in the financial industry after leaving a high-profile job at Mellon Bank in 1988.

In the docuseries, his friend and former lover recalls bumping into him at the Manhattan fundraiser, getting a drink with him afterwards at the Townhouse Bar, a posh piano bar that catered to a gay clientele, and then sending him in a cab to the Waldorf Astoria hotel after a bartender cut Anderson off. His body was found in several trash bags in Lancaster County, off the Pennsylvania Turnpike, two days later.

The following year, a similar fate befell Thomas Mulcahy, a 57-year-old married father of four from Massachusetts. He disappeared on July 8, 1992 after attending a business meeting in New York City and visiting the Townhouse. Maintenance workers discovered his remains in trash cans off Route 72 in Burlington County and in Stafford Township along the Garden State Parkway.

Anthony Marrero, a 44-year-old sex worker originally from Philadelphia but based in New York, and Michael Sakara, a 56-year-old typesetter from Philadelphia living in New York City, were murdered in 1993. Marrero's remains were found in Ocean County while Sakara's were discovered in Haverstraw, New York.

While no one was ever tried for Anderson's death, Richard Rogers was convicted of Mulcahy's murder in 2005 — and many believe he is responsible for all four killings. He is currently serving two consecutive life sentences for the murders of Mulcahy and Marrero, who will be spotlighted in future episodes of "Last Call" airing Sunday nights at 9 p.m.

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