Officer William Fox

Michael Buchanan arrived in Manhattan with $7 to his name. Raised first by an abusive father, then by the foster system, he thought New York held a brighter life for him. He got a job washing windows in exchange for meals and slept in a rooming house for $3.25 a night. It was August 1981. He was 17.

On the night of September 1, Buchanan went to the rooming house’s sixth-floor ledge and considered suicide. Officer William Fox was among the first responders to the scene. As he worked his way closer to Michael, trying not to provoke him, a crowd that had formed in the street began shouting for Michael to jump. Fox eventually caught the boy, cuffed him, and took him to Bellevue.

Officer Fox adopted Michael that November. Michael subsequently heard from his estranged mother in Texas; by spring of 1982, he had two homes.

Although your friendly curators would love to leave the story in this happy ’82 ending, our thorough research prevents us.

Michael Buchanan threatened suicide again in January 1983, this time walking down Fulton Street with a device he claimed was a bomb taped to his chest. Almost exactly a year later, he stole Officer Fox’s gun and vehicle and fled to Pennsylvania, where he was arrested. Fox had retired on disability from the police force the year before and was indignant at the theft. By then 19, Buchanan was charged with multiple felony counts of larceny. After that, he disappears from the public record.