Donna Hylton says she is not a murderer / Interview

Donna Hylton says she is not a murderer.  Yes, she has been convicted, and yes too, please recall what this means for a Black woman in the US.*

  • Writer’s Introductory Note
Rosario Dawson Attached to Play Women’s Rights Activist Donna Hylton (pictured above) in Biopic, Courtesy:

“When I was young, very young, before I was ‘adopted,’ really sold, at 7 years old, my mother was…” Hylton pauses to collect her thoughts. “She was quite abusive.” Growing up on the island of Jamaica, Hylton would disassociate from the times of abuse by her mother, retreating into a world of fantasy. Hylton says, “my friends were hummingbirds, butterflies, flowers, the water, the sand … I was a very magically inclined child.” Noting that now, as an adult, “my mother was probably what would be considered suffering from bipolar disorder, some days she would be loving, at times there would be moments of great affection, followed by something terrible, something brutal.” At the age of 3, Hylton’s mother threw her to the floor; she still has the scar on her forehead. Getting close to the camera, she shows me the mark. Interviewing her, from another continent, her presence is big enough to reach into my studio.

“Yes, my mother, she would make these scalding hot baths, put me in them, oh they would burn terribly, and one day, with the power-cables … telephone wires, they had come down in a storm, she got a bunch of these and beat me with them, and then put me in one of those scolding hot baths.” Enduring abuse at the hands of her mother, she would later be sold, or ‘adopted,’ to the Hylton family. “They said I was going to Disneyland, that’s how they basically sold me a dream. To me, I thought I was going to a magical place … instead, I ended up in the Bronx.” The details around Hylton’s ‘adoption’ are murky, and she only has one piece of official paperwork confirming her early existence. No birth-certificate, Hylton doesn’t even know the exact year she was born. “I am guessing 1964, but it could be another date, in Jamaica the record keeping was not the best, and – it being a poor country – I imagine that children are ‘adopted’ this way, let’s say outside the bounds of any normal process, all the time. It is a matter of ‘what you can pay.”

Moving to a 4th floor apartment in the Bronx in the summer of her 7th year on Earth, Hylton started school that September. “After about a year, he – Mr Hylton – would start taking me into the closet, and raping me, almost everyday for five years … He would say ‘we must keep this between ourselves’ and ‘she [Mrs Hylton] will get upset’ – I internalized this message.” The message that the person, usually a woman, being raped must somehow ‘protect’ the feelings of their rapist, is all too pervasive under patriarchy. “Yes, this continued from the time I was about 9 till I left at 14. I had a scholarship to an excellent private school, St Andrews, and then I just broke down, well it’s complicated. My math teacher, who was tutoring me, raped me. I needed to get away; in the building there was a 25-year-old, he lived a few floors, below us, and I came to know him. I thought he could take me away from all the pain; he drove me to Philadelphia. I escaped with him. He’d become one of my biggest abusers.” Driving Hylton from New York City to Philadelphia, “on the first night there, he raped me.” She says all of this in such a matter-of-fact way, I can tell that five decades have worn on her; these horrific experiences, accumulated, synthesized, overcome and still present, as words, memories, sensations in and on the body, she retains these mental and emotional spaces to speak them, but can I listen?

Of course, I can listen, yet at this point, I don’t know what to say; I have an interview format ready, I am prepared, I have done my research into her case, yet nothing can prepare you for the rawness of speaking with a victim of multiple, ongoing rapes committed by various men. I meekly say “I am sorry.” Hylton chokes up, and she does cry a little. I am concerned I may have gone too far, yet she says “No, keep asking, this is my truth and it will be spoken!” Driving, a valuable lesson she learned whilst in Philadelphia, gave her “a sense of freedom. You see he – the man who brought me – worked at a garage, so I learned there, I really love driving, I love it. People would look at me, thinking, ‘I am sure you must be younger than 19.’ He told me that I must use his mother’s ID and say I was 19, it was really bizarre, I didn’t even use my own name, my own age, I was somebody else, nobody else.” Ghosting in Philadelphia, presumably disassociating from the ever-more traumatic environments that all too many Black women live in and under in the US and elsewhere, Hylton returned to New York City a wreck. “Several months, four months later, we returned. The Hyltons had not been looking for me … I mean your 14 year old ‘daughter’ goes missing for months, and these people didn’t seem to care at all.”

During the five years Donna lived with them, the Hyltons combined extreme austerity (no friends, no social contact outside of school, etc.) with near complete absence and neglect after she left. Two forms of extreme abuse, on different ends of a spectrum of parental failures, haunted Donna; that of being both imprisoned and lost, of being caged and thrown into the void; furthermore, she never had the ability to develop childhood friendships. “The Hyltons would prohibit me from having any friends, I focused solely on my studies. That was it, me and books. Basically this left me with no social skills, certainly nothing that would allow me to be a bit more ‘savvy’ in public, or to be able to sense danger; if you paid attention to me, if you even spoke to me, for the first time, I considered you my best friend. Of course, this is dangerous.” Hylton, socially inept, traumatized, mentally, emotionally and physically abused, moved in with the 25-year-old.

“We moved to Harlem.” I ask where, as I used to live in Harlem. She lived in the center (Lennox/111th), I was further to the West Side (142nd/Amsterdam). Architecturally, what did Donna’s landscape look like; asking, what was that apartment like, could she describe it to me? She replies, “No one has ever asked me about that! Interesting question! Well this place was totally austere, wooden floors, not one carpet or rug, there was a little space for cooking, a one bedroom place, no plants, nothing, a few dishes, pots and pans, a bed, and a window that – as they do – looked out into an alley-way. I think it was north facing, so we never received proper light. The place didn’t feel like home, but nowhere felt like home, nowhere.” Now pregnant, at 15, she’d walk to Central Park, “I would walk and walk and walk, I would say hello to the horses, Central Park was my savior, I could just walk all day, I would walk in circles around that park. I read too, ha! I read Dr. Spock, because I really wanted to know how to be a good mother. I went to the library and started reading Dr. Spock.”

Perennially optimistic, Hylton, “always thought it would get better. I held onto a thread of hope. But, it seemed to never come.” She pauses and continues, “Ok, speeding up time, when I was 16, my was daughter was around 1-2 months old. We had no food in the house.  I told him ‘I haven’t been able to feed her’ and of course, I couldn’t feed his dog. Well, he came home and said,  ‘I don’t get a fuck about her, you better feed my fucking dog.’ He gave me $5 to get the dog something to eat. I bought the dog food and a can of infant food, yet, upon returning to the building, something stopped me from going up those stairs. I simply could not get up the stairs. My legs froze. He was extremely high, and he already had a history of violence, pushing me down stairs … I nearly lost my daughter from that attack. But there was something there … malevolent … I went to the Bronx to the Hyltons’ place, stayed the night. I went back the next day to get my daughter. I went back and no one answered the door. A day later I am back in the Bronx where we grew up. Someone said that they saw him with Adrenne, my daughter, the Hyltons advised I call the police. I got my daughter back.”

Facing yet another problem, Hylton had to return to that Harlem apartment to retrieve her and her daughter’s things. She walked up the staircase, and she recalls “He was shouting at me, he told me he was going to kill me, he said: how dare you call the police?” Walking outside, “across the street, there were these drug dealers, for months they had seen me coming and going, with black eyes, from being punched, they knew, they knew right away what was going on … They came up to me and said ‘wait here. Ten minutes later they were back with bags filled with my stuff. They said, ‘he will never threaten you again.’ Of course, this shows that people can and do care, what some people might call ‘bad guys on the street,’ were the only good Samaritans around, the only ones who helped me during that whole period without asking for anything in return.”

“After that incident, I basically just tried to take care of my daughter. I was a kid raising a kid, I didn’t know what she needed beyond diapers, food and clothing. But I did give her lots of love, of course, she was like a doll who I loved and who loved me back.” Hylton seems to disconnect here; her recollections of this period, 17 to 19, require some “speeding past that” and “speeding ahead in time” as she says several times. “Frankly I just wanted to get on with my life, I wanted a safe place, and a safe place to be pretty. Modelling, ha! how silly when I think about it now, seriously, though I thought it would be a safe place to be pretty and not exploited. I was clueless.” She’d go to Macy’s and get her make-up done, go to shoots, etc. Yet she needed a portfolio of her work, to demonstrate to agencies what type of model she’d like to be, what her range could be, “basically, they ask you what your goals are, where you think you might fit into this very big industry, and all of that requires a portfolio of photographs, professionally done, to show to agencies.” She also, of course, wanted some extra money to take care of her daughter.

Working at one of her odd jobs, Hylton met Maria. Maria was connected to the Italian-American mafia via her ‘godfather’ a man named ‘Miranda.’ During this part of the interview, details come thick, heavy and redacted. Hylton is holding something back. She isn’t telling me something, but she is telling me the truth. First, I note that she won’t tell me who was living with her during her time at the Hyltons, after she left the Harlem flat; during that time “I would be downstairs, but I can’t say much … The women I lived with downstairs would later become my co-defendant.” Whatever, or whoever, is being protected in that omission, I don’t find it nefarious. “London Fog raincoat and Pall Mall cigarettes. London Fog raincoat and Pall Mall Cigarettes.” This phrase sticks in my head for the next several days. Hylton refers to Thomas Vigliarolo, the man who was murdered, only as “Mr V.” (At the end of our interview, she said “Mr V. walks with me, his is in front of me, behind me, he is all around me; I do this work for him, and every other victim of the system.”)

The aforementioned ‘Miranda,’ Maria’s godfather, enlisted Hylton to ‘witness something.’ She recalls, “He said I needed to ‘witness something,’ he wasn’t clear, he kept talking and talking. I was thinking: OK, what is it that you want me to do? I need to pay for this portfolio. And, of course, Maria had basically said he was a wonderful man, like a father, etc. She had her own problems with being accepted by her father. I don’t know the psychology here. But this wasn’t a good start. Miranda called me a ‘friend of the family.’ Do you know, the family was so powerful, the Pope wrote a letter on behalf of Maria? Really, the Pope!”

Hylton pauses, we both take a needed break; continuing, she talks about the series of events that changed her life for 27 years, “So I agreed, basically to blackmail a man. I was meant to walk in on Maria with this man in a sexual situation.” Here I know that Hylton must’ve been naive. Very naive, eager and reckless. Why would you have someone ‘witness’ a sexual encounter, it makes no sense, as there would be no photographic evidence. Hylton never says she was asked to take photographs; so she’s either lying now, or was extremely naive and desperate at the time. I agree with the latter.  She continues “Comes the day where I am supposed to witness this … I get to Maria’s apartment. I walk in, and something is off; it’s like The Twilight Zone. I hear movement. Mr V. is on the sofa, he only had boxers, shirt, socks, handcuffs on; he’s gagged, blindfolded; clearly they had given him a knockout drug. I had walked into a kidnapping. I had agreed to a blackmail scheme, but here I was: I had walked into a kidnapping.” At this point in the stream of events, Hylton is stunned and she looks to her friend, “Maria, who pulled out a gun! These two massive guys were there. One of them leaves, one stays. Immediately got afraid; I knew this was different.”

Having learned to drive in Philadelphia, Hylton “was told to drive the car. I drove from Queens to Harlem. And they hauled Mr V. into the apartment. He’s held there, beaten; I can’t speak to it; I didn’t see it. I think it involved his Nassau County business, lots of money. He was burnt with cigarettes.  They weren’t feeding him.  I found this out when I was there. I argued for him, I said ‘you must let this man eat;’ I got hit because of this protest. I gave him juice and broth. He smoked Pall Malls, they were in his London Fog raincoat pocket. I gave him Pall Malls.” I imagine the scene, Thomas Vigliarolo, beaten, almost naked on the couch, and 19-year-old-Donna looking over his body, bruised and burnt, thumbing through his raincoat. Bringing him cigarettes, lighting them. Feeding him some broth. I freeze that scene, and ask Hylton, who was also burnt with cigarettes by her erstwhile ‘boyfriend,’ how the burnt flesh, the suffering of another, made her feel? She says “And this is where I always break-down.” She cries for a good minute, I am sure this feeling has washed over her so many countless times, and I am sure the emotional rainstorm is just as strong, albeit less visible with decades of erosion, polishing and perfecting.

Hylton continues, I refocus, “Miranda rapes me while Mr V. is being held, for around 11 days; Miranda takes me to his apartment in Midtown.  My role in the crime is to drive Maria and Miranda around for these days. I would come into that apartment where they held Mr V., and I used to beat myself up a lot because for some moments, and this is the honest truth, I was happy it wasn’t me. There were times that I was like ‘I’ve got to do something, but what I am supposed to do?’ They have people in the police department, and I didn’t trust the police, I was raped by a police officer at 17. First, I was raped. My friend said call the police, and this officer, who took me to the hospital, well he then raped me on the way back from the hospital.” I sit, motionless, I can feel the tension in my neck. Rape after rape, violation after violation, systematic and systemic violence against this woman, this Black woman, that very few, if any, white men outside of prison, would ever have to face. “Anyways,” she continues, “there was this joke among the police officers, about how we were the dumbest criminals; Maria had rented a car which had an over-due fee, and she was the last person that Mr V. was going to see for a meeting. The cops were looking for her; they got a search warrant into her house; they found rope, masking tape, listened to her voice-machine, etc.” And of course, the police found Hylton, “the police were very abusive, punched me in the face, I was not told of my Miranda rights. I told them everything. Of course, I always had the fear of my daughter being killed … and I found out later that the mafia were going to kill me.”

The Judge, Edwin Torres, who was writing his book Carlito’s Way, and in the midst of movie deals, “used the trial as a great publicity stunt” according to Hylton. She continues, “Here we have a Judge who is literally writing fiction, promoting himself for profit, and presiding over this incredibly high-profile case. She recounts, “the media, well they labelled me “Leader of the Girl Gang,’ this psychopath who would kill to be a model. Essentially, the truth was never told. The particulars of the case were never told in an authentic way. While being held at Rikers Island Prison, I was medicated with very strong psychotropic drugs, held in complete isolation. I could hardly pick my head up. I had to go through the wringer to get off that crap. 13 months.”

February of 1986, almost exactly one year before I was born, Hylton was pronounced guilty. On March 12 1986, Hylton went for sentencing, “I heard 25 to life … that was another twilight zone, I didn’t understand … I just didn’t understand what that meant. I heard ‘life’ … I didn’t understand how I got here… I didn’t help Mr V.  I had a breakdown. It was all too much.” While in prison, which lasted 27 years, Hylton learned that, “In the end, I couldn’t help Mr V. That took time.  To grapple with that, to struggle with that, to come to terms with that. It was during that introspection that I really started to question the system, and realized, that there is too much of this: the large majority of the women are in prison for being abused. Many times it is a ‘do or die’ situation. It was just too much. And I said this has to change. Fortunately, Elaine Lord at the Bedford Correctional Facility understood this. I was in prison at a time where the right person was running the prison.”

Hylton has high praise for Elaine Lord, “it was her understanding about women that helped. She allowed us to build and create programs to work on every aspect of ourselves. I engaged in therapy. It was a safe transitional, space for me.” Hylton skips over these 27 years, and I am not here to talk about them, I will let another person do that. I ask, and afterwards? “After I came out, I began immediately advocating for my sisters on the inside, and several years ago I had a stroke in front of the governor’s house; I was protesting for clemency; you have these very elderly women who have been in prison forever, and there is no need to keep them there. No risk to the public. Anyways, I almost died, I had several appearances a day at the time, constant protests. Really the stress of the work. And you know we don’t look at people as people when something happens, crimes are situational.” Hylton continues, undeterred by her stroke, which we skip over, “Women are often placed in situations often out of necessity. John and Jane Q public don’t understand the real world. They live in a middle-class, Middle American bubble. Besides that, Torres is not the only Judge to hold Kangaroo Courts.”

Donna Hylton says she is not a murderer. Donna Hylton was a very naive, socially inept and traumatized 19-year-old who got caught up in a web made by creatures much larger than her. The nets of racism, sexism, rape culture, organized crime, economic and structural-institutional indifference to suffering and sadism, forged a path to murder that became all too easy. It is important to remember that narrow corridor, closed options, rejection from society, and social isolation are key elements in this and other cases like it. Does this excuse Hylton from culpability? I will not answer that question here because I think, in this case, no answer can be given readily and easily. Hylton ends, saying, “There are women in prison aging and dying [there] because of sexual abuse they experienced. We have become too comfortable in pushing this subject of women’s oppression away. I want people to get uncomfortable. It’s time to be uncomfortable,”

Uncomfortable: This essentially describes my feeling at the end of the interview. Rosario Dawson is meant be working on a film that will cover Hylton’s life. It will take an extremely adept, emotionally stable actor like Dawson to hold ‘the range’ of experiences on screen. London Fog raincoat and Pall Malls. I heard this repeat in my head. I also see Hylton feeding this man, barely clothed and handcuffed, broth. Juxtapositions discomfort, and synthesizing the experiences of those deemed ‘monsters’ is essential. For, as Hegel noted, Evil resides in the gaze that sees Evil all around. Behind the headlines, behind the outrage over Hylton’s speaking out at the Women’s March, is a woman – for whatever personal reason – publicly committed to justice for prisoners, and more importantly someone with experiences that are valuable lessons to us all.

Perhaps Donna Hylton represents the worst nightmares of white, Middle America, a convicted murderer of a white man who is a Black woman, a feminist, and who speaks her truth. Perhaps that’s exactly why we cannot be silent or take the side of Middle America, that Agency of Death, but must boldly say ‘I Stand With Donna?’ Perhaps. I am not taking this side.

What follows, dear reader, is an addendum, that I had to add, after hours of deliberating. Adding it is about elucidating a problem, namely the way women are treated by male producers in the media.

After asking Hylton to approve this interview, I received a message from her to call her immediately. An irate Dan Pearson, producer, stated “You can’t publish this!” He went on about how he owned the intellectual property rights, and stated loudly at Hylton, “Look at what you have done to me!” Over the next agonizing 30 minutes, I was told to “take a line out of each paragraph, remove this, actually just make it a synopsis.” One cannot turn a two hour interview into a ‘synopsis,’ and the article is already heavily edited. On the second or third call, Pearson was saying “take all of it out, just a few lines!” A nervous, and unusually timid Hylton said, “I overstepped. I am sorry. Can you hear him, he’s on the other side of the room?” Yes, I could hear him just fine. Ultimately, Hylton agreed to a redacted version, which is what you’ve read. I am writing this to ask if emancipation doesn’t just mean getting out of prison, or even finding your truth, but something entirely more radical? A strong-willed Hylton, still being partially controlled? I hope not.


Pre-Order A Little Piece of Light, by Donna Hylton

* From The Guardian, “Women in jails are the fastest growing incarcerated population, study says,”

Women held in local jails represent the fastest growing population of incarcerated people in the US, according to a new study. The researchers found that trauma, sexual violence and mental health issues were all closely wrapped up with the swelling numbers.

“While we started to see a decline in the incarceration and jailing of men, we haven’t seen a comparable kind of trend for women,” said Laurie Garduque, director of Justice Reform for the MacArthur Foundation, which co-published the report with the Vera Institute. Since 1970, the number of women in US jails has increased by 14 times, far outstripping the growth in the male prison population, even though in raw numbers there remain many more men locked up.

The majority of those women entering jail are black and Hispanic, mirroring demographic trends that cross gender lines. Women, however, tend to enter jails in more vulnerable situations than men, as a higher percentage of women in jail were using drugs, unemployed or receiving public assistance at the time they were arrested.”

Full story here:



  1. Really?? You believe that the street-smart donna hylton was raped that often, by every man of authority with whom she came in contact. Each time she is at a point in her story where she must find an excuse for an extremely bad decision, she conveniently cries rape.

    So we should believe her when she says she was taking part in the rape, torture, and murder of the male victim because she was being raped by an accomplice? …she didn’t go to police because she was raped by a police officer who was taking her to the hospital after having been raped by yet another person. Why on earth would a police officer rape a victim on the way to the place in which a rape kit will be done? That is absurd.

    Everything that comes out of her mouth is aimed towards showing herself as the victim. Her mother beat her; she was “sold” to her adoptive father who raped her every day for five years straight; she “escaped” with a 25 year old, who rapes her; she is again raped and immediately afterwards is raped by the police officer who responded to her rape complaint; and to top it off she was raped by her accomplice, Miranda. Yeah, right..

    She was an “active” participant in the kidnapping and murder of another human being, but you want to blame white middle America? SHE IS A MURDERER!


    • EXACTLY. She is a brutal murderer and a liar. When she was giving her statement to the police she slipped and said “he was going to die anyway” when she had claimed she didn’t know he was to die until they told her he was dead. And now she is the keynote speaker for the Democrats convention?!?! That should tell you all you need to know about that lot.


      • Thank you for your comment. I apologize for the delay in approving it. I have been in hospital. Your thoughts and reflections are now public. I was unaware that Ms Hylton is a ‘keynote speaker’ for the Democratic Convention. As a Democrat, I would say that there are reasons to have here speak (her experience in prison) and that also someone else might be better. I am not in a position to comment on this with a concrete ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to her participation at the DP convention.


  2. Ah, ah, ah, ah. The fantastic (better, fantasy) story of Donna Hylton, the victim of patriarchy.
    A mountain of lies and a journalist who believes in it.


  3. let say this women was raped as she describes. for me, it does not matter. she is still a murderer. being raped cannot be used as an excuse. if so, every criminal who was raped can claime innocense.


    • The context is important. Even in the most strictly literal reading of the law, context and agency are important. Ms Hylton is not claiming that being raped made her murder, but rather contextualizing the events around the murder that she was participant in.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hylton willingly took part in the kidnapping, torture and murder of another human being. She did this for money. She did this while knowing perfectly well that it was wrong. She had ample opportunity to report this ongoing crime to the authorities but CHOSE to do nothing to help this man. This went on for more that TWO WEEKS!
        NO “CONTEXT” excuses what she did. And even if it did, where is the evidence that any of these claimed rapes actually occurred and are not just part of her “victim” narrative so handy in denying any personal responsibility for her actions? Lots of people are abused in childhood and don’t become murderers… AND SHE IS A MURDERER, don’t kid yourself.
        Once she’s paid her dues she has the right to live as she sees fit. But having someone like that speak at a women’s march, talking about “human rights”, is demented. It’s bad enough having human rights deniers like Linda Sarsour and terrorist murderers like Rasmea Yousef Odeh hijacking and disgracing the women’s rights movement, but they’ve sunk to a new low. It beggars belief.


      • Gerry,

        Thank you for your comment. I would like to remind you of Ms Hylton’s age at the time of the murder; she was very young, and although this is not exculpatory, I think other factors might very well be. For instance, Black women, who are routinely treated with contempt and suspicion in the United States, along with brutality by the police, are often not – for obvious reasons – going to report intimate partner violence and/or sexual abuse. Additionally, the events leading up to the murder indicate that Ms Hylton played a tertiary, not a central, role in what is undoubtedly a complex, tragic and awful situation. Lastly, the role of the mafia, which Ms Hylton alleges, and the power it wielded in 1980s NYC, also may have acted as a force, pushing her along to the periphery of this terrible event.

        I will say that, yes, she has served her time, and what she’s seen in prison, experienced there, etc, is important information for the public to know. In this sense, there is a need to listen to Ms Hylton, because it is in the public interest to know about the prison-industrial complex, the way it affects women and Black women in particular. Do you disagree?

        Liked by 1 person

      • The character of this woman is appauling. Just like most , playing the victim while taking part in inhuman acts. Just like BLM movement.


      • Thank you for your comment. I apologize for the delay in approving it. I have been in hospital. Your thoughts and reflections are now public. I would caution conflating certain individuals with a movement for equality and dignity.


  4. Of course she’s going to proclaim as much innocence and distance herself from the crime. However in another interview that she had done, she admitted that she was going to be paid to witness a rape. For someone that supposedly has been raped like she has, that is a new level of low. She knew she was participating in a blackmail sceme. What I haven’t read in any of her interview is remorse or pity for the victim. Only that seeing his cigarette burns made her feel bad about when it allegedly happened to her.


    • Shy, thank you for your comment. Could you kindly direct me to the interview where she said she was to be paid to witness rape? During the course of my interview with Ms Hylton, and in my research, she said she was going to witness a sexual affair, but not rape.

      Thank you, Tony Cochran

      Liked by 1 person

      • “During the course of my interview with Ms Hylton, and in my research, she said she was going to witness a sexual affair, but not rape.”

        It’s here in this 1995 interview with Jill Neimark in Psychology Today:

        “In 1985, Maria Talag introduced her, along with Rita and Theresa, to Louis Miranda. “I was modeling part time, at little stores in Harlem, and I loved it. Models were idolized, and I wanted to be pretty that way, instead of being pretty and abused. I needed money for a portfolio, and Maria told me all I had to do was witness a rape.”


  5. Tony, you’ve been duped along with Rosario Dawson and so many others who have fallen for her lies.

    She never mentions her sister who was also ADOPTED by the Hyltons (not sold to). Why? Because her sister will tell the truth about Donna.

    Donna portrays herself as a victim over and over to gain whatever money and sympathy that she can gain.

    Ask her what she and her gang did to a woman in prison when they thought the woman stole donna’s jewelry.

    Donna is the furthest thing from a victim that you could have. And you, in your liberal cloud, fell for her con hook line and sinker

    Shame on you.


    • Dee,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Firstly, I welcome all feedback regarding this post, and I am willing to speak with Donna’s sister, and publish a rebuttal. Of course, that is, if she is willing to speak. Is she willing to back up your claim?

      Secondly, I have no idea about the event – stolen jewelry – in question. It is my understanding that jewelry is not permitted inside prison. Who could back up this claim?




      • Look up Directive 4911 in NYS dept of corrections. Inmates are permitted jewelry and many other things.

        Donna’s sister is Sharon Hylton. You may be able to reach her through Daphne & Roy Hylton. Sharon did post a laundry list of Donna’s lies on someone’s blog about Donna. Maybe you can find her that way.

        Did it ever occur to you that Donna’s story is completely outrageous? Raped by almost every person she came into contact with?
        A detective rapes her in his car after taking her to a hospital? Really?

        A 3 year old child weighs about 30 pounds. Are you going to tell me that an average woman could throw a 30 pound child high up in the air as Donna claims when she says her mother then walked away and let her fall to the ground? Not possible.

        Did you read the Psychology Today article where she says “he was going to die anyway…” (in reference to her victim) and caught herself before going further?

        THINK, Tony…. dont just have a typical liberal knee-jerk reaction to her story. Remember, also, that she participated in the kidnap, torture and murder of someone.

        It’s really amazing how many people have fallen for this without using common sense.


      • Dee,

        I appreciate your feedback.

        I must say that I have thought, indeed a great deal, about Donna Hylton’s life and her narrative. I have read all the relevant reportage, including the Psychology Today article.

        As for Sharon Hylton, I would not be averse to giving her a space to rebut the contents of this article. I would be open to it. I would appreciate it if she contacted me (as Ms Hylton did). I don’t want to impose on any of the family, considering that they are often not in any of the reporting, I assume that they remain private citizens.

        As for Ms Hylton’s allegations of being raped, I believe her insofar as I would believe any person who says they were raped. This is a serious charge. (Clarification: The individual was not a detective, but rather a beat cop).

        I am also not omitting the events that led to Ms Hylton’s incarceration. We spoke about them, and they are detailed within the article. If there is more from countervailing sources, please have them email me at


        T.R. Cochran

        Liked by 1 person

      • Source (2 secs to google):

        Sharon Hylton
        January 29, 2017 at 8:43 pm

        “I am happy to see such an articulate summarisation of Donna and her crime.
        2) Her memories are fragmented bits of lies
        3) What she is doing is making herself THE VICTIM
        4) Judge Torres as a part of his sentencing stipulated that “no movies, books, or documentaries were to be made about this heinous crime because he did not want any of the murderers to benefit from the murder, torture, kidnap of the Victim. He was burned, clothed on in diapers and was given kool aid when they felt like feeding him.
        5) MY FATHER IS 90 years old still alive and NEVER MOLESTED OR HAD SEXUAL CONTACT WITH DONNA
        6) Her birth mother DID NOT SELL HER TO THE HYLTONS
        7) My mother NEVER threw her in the air and watched her drop to the ground
        8) Donna was a Spoiled child that was GIVEN EVERYTHING SHE WANTED.. Had the best of everything my parents made sure of that.
        9) She ran away from home of her own accord.
        10) Her daughters father did not rape her.. How do you rape someone who willingly ran away from home one week after Junior High prom?
        11) I am her Blood sister, we have the same mother and we were both adopted by the HYLTONS.
        12) She is a Sociopathic, PATHOLIGICAL Liar…Shows no empathy, remorse or sympathy to anyone she hurts.
        13) If she thinks she will benefit from you she will lay on the BABY VOICE CHARM, caress your hands and look you straight in the eye and LIE…
        14) The only reason they were not given the death sentence was because NYC had banned it when the crime was committed.

        But even if everything she claims happened to her was true, her not accepting an ounce of personal responsibility, apart from being vile, should raise alarm bells to anyone trying to present her as some sort of reformed character. To be fair, you don’t even do that. You just excuse it all because…identity politics.


      • Dear Alice,

        I hope that this finds you well.

        Thank you for posting this article by Donna Hylton’s sister. I assume that this article has been verified as accurate and coming from said person, and if that is the case, I shall keep it visible here as a right of response to the interview and subsequent article I did with Ms Donna Hylton.

        Best wishes,

        Tony Cochran


  6. i was raped every day of my life from the time i was 4 and i’m being raped while i write this (so heartbreaking, right?)

    now that i’ve established my credibility with you, i want to add this:

    although donna hylton is a textbook pathological liar, let’s try a different approach.

    a white man helps kidnap and torture an elderly black woman. she is starved and tortured for 20 straight days, including with cigarette burns, anal rape with a metal pipe and having each of her breasts smashed to bloody pulps in a vice. she’s eventually strangled to death, and the killers leave her in a trunk. one of the killers says he was raped by everyone he crossed paths with in his life and there wasn’t a single thing he could do to help her over the course of 2 1/2 weeks. nothing at all. evidently there was no one, not even a passerby, who he could send to the police in his place to save this woman because he was afraid of more rape after being raped so much in his past.

    do you feel sympathy for him and feel the things he says that he himself suffered growing up should distance him and minimize his participation in this heinous act?

    if you do, i applaud you even if i still believe you’re wrong. if you don’t, however, then you’re a soft-hearted hypocrite with a chivalry complex.


      • my point is that i believe because she’s a woman, you’re willing to ambitiously overlook her not insignificant role in this case. your article casts HER as the victim and not the man that she helped to starve and torture to death—the actual victim.

        it’s nearly impossible to find anything at all online about Thomas Vigliarolo because every article is devoted to waxing sympathetic over a convicted murderer who keeps changing her story. why is that?

        also, take this line from the psychology today piece, “Their cut was to be $9,000 each; Donna wanted hers to pay for a picture portfolio to help her break into modeling.”

        does that really sound like something an innocent bystander would say? would an innocent bystander willingly drop off a ransom note knowing that the victim was already tortured to death?

        no, because she is a chronic liar. she wasn’t sold, she was adopted by a couple from nice neighborhood (who still lives there), and she chose to run away with her boyfriend after getting pregnant (wait, let me guess, she ran away with a different rapist of hers because she was being raped at home.)

        everything that happened in her life is always someone else’s fault. she says so many men must have raped her because she’s so pretty.

        why is the actual victim little more than a byline anywhere, while this convicted murderer and demonstrable liar gets all of this over the top coverage?

        so i ask again, if the roles of Donna and Thomas were reversed, would your article still focus endearingly on a murderer claiming victimhood?


  7. Absolutely ridiculous that you try to defend her actions. She took part in murder and torture doesn’t matter her age or circumstances she couldve tried to stop it. Fucking astounding. Shes should still be in prison. That guy did not deserve to be tortured and killed! Fuck her!!!!! Your doing a disservice to the much needed reform in the justice system by having her as a spokeperson!


    • Matt,

      Thank you for your impassioned comment.

      A few thoughts: First, I don’t think anyone seeking criminal justice reform (or revolution) would support a life-time sentence. This is considered torture by most NGOs who work on the issue (Amnesty, HRW, etc); second, any Judge or Jury – and even prosecutors – can, and often do, take into account the accused’s history, mental functioning, etc; third, I am not “have her as a spokesperson,” she was invited to the Women’s March, took part in it, became a symbol to love, loath or feel ambiguous about; in other words, I have not “made” her anything. A film was already in the process of being produced when I conducted this interview, along with Ms Hylton’s own book. I do not condone her actions involving the murder in this article.

      Thank you,

      Tony Cochran


  8. “He was just a homo anyway”, that was her explanation, for the brutal rape and sadistic murder of an innocent gay man. That’s what the author of this sick propaganda is defending.


  9. By definition, if you are convicted of murder, you are a murderer.
    Or are definitions not a thing anymore?

    No ‘context’ will change the facts, she was convicted of murder, therefore, she is a murderer.
    I find this entire article laughable, and you should honestly question your moral and lawful viewpoints.


  10. By definition, if you are convicted of murder, you are a murderer.
    Or are definitions just a thing of the past?

    No ‘context’ changes the fact that, she was convicted for murder, therefore she is a murderer.
    No excuses.

    I find this entire article laughable, and I think you seriously need to step back and have a look at your moral, and lawful viewpoints.


    • Elliott,

      Thank you for your views.

      A conviction of murder does not mean that one is de facto a murderer; it does mean that one is de jure a murderer. The labeling of an individual does in fact depend on context, deeply so. Whilst Bush II and Dick Cheney led the US into war with Iraq, using information they knew was false, leading the deaths of thousands of US soldiers and over 600,000 Iraqi civilians, they have yet to be brought under the category of ‘murderers.’ A conviction of murder is indeed serious, but given that the current epistemological conditions for evaluating a person’s actions are not parametrically applied – they are not equal – and given that Hylton is, in my opinion a participant with people who did commit murder, but did not murder an individual herself, the charge would have been more along the lines of manslaughter.

      Please read this:


  11. If we completely believe her story, do we believe Varg Vikerness that he was acting in self-defense when he murdered his friend? Not saying she’s lying, but it seems it’s only her word against others’.


    • Christiann,

      It seems you are trying to draw parallels based on the early life experiences of Vickerness and Hylton. With Vickerness experiencing a troubled childhood in Iraq, having racist parents, etc, and Hylton’s own troubled childhood. I have not interviewed Mr Vickerness, nor have I looked at his case in depth, therefore any comment I make would be purely speculative. It is important to note the difference of sentencing: Hylton served over 20+ years and Vickerness served 14 years, simply because of the differences of way the law is applied. Furthermore, Vickerness actually admitted to being the one to kill his associate, whereas Hylton was part of a group that ended up murdering their captive. I think that the cases are different in this major respect: one committed the act, the other did not.


  12. I found your article interesting because I found the legitimacy of the attacks on a person that was selected to speak at the Women’s March, suspect. Particularly a photo that’s been circulated to denigrate, Donna and the Womens March, that had words superimposed over Donna. I’m sure you’ve seen it. Upon checking sources, it’s actually the words of Rita not Donna mentioned. As a journalist, I truly appreciate your patience in responding to every mean and unsubstantiated comment.

    However, I’m surprised that you posted, the supposed sister’s comments written by Alice, a third person, over a year ago without any proof. I thought the link was Sharon’s blog, but it wasn’t. Have you been able to verify them? If not, I think they should be removed. Unfortunately, these days everyone thinks they’re a journalist and can write anything or post anything without any verification of facts. I found her video intro helpful.

    It should not be surprising to those who are critical of the Women’s March’s selection of Donna that women who are protesting, sexual abuse, inequality and the criminalization of women, particularly of women who are poor, uneducated or of color, would select someone who appears to have suffered from all three but, has not only survived but has become successful. Why did Donna get 25 years and the murderer only get 14?

    Reportedly, Donna is a founding member of From Life to Life, a national initiative dedicated to the dismantling of the prison industrial complex. She is a key member of the Correctional Association’s Violence Against Women Committee on the Inside, and serves as an advisory committee member for the New York Women’s Bar Association’s Parole Prep Project. Her experiences can serve to inspire others.

    This is the norm in our society, not the exception. It’s the reason, that ex-gang leaders, ex-addicts, and ex-criminals are brought in to help reform others. Some of the most notorious ones end up being recruited by the FBI to help satisfy their sentence. Other’s write books and go on speaking engagements. And yes, movies are made about them, also. It’s true they’re usually men. I’m thinking of American Gangster and The Wolf of Wall Street. So why, are these people so mad about Donna being able to do the same thing. Is it because she’s a woman, or black, or both?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Brenda.

      I am pleased that – at least – one person finds this article as not being an affront to decency. And I agree with your assessment of Ms Hylton’s situation. The criticism is heavily charged with racism and sexism, and her sentence was not parametric with the person who actually murdered the victim.

      I have been contacted by member(s) of the victim’s family, and I allowed someone to post Alice’s (alleged) comments as a right of response, however, I need to investigate the provenance further, thank you for bringing this to my attention.

      Best regards,

      TR Cochran


  13. So this story is pretty much saying its okay to rape, beat, murder and mutilate a white male because you feel you are being oppressed by (nothing). It is never okay to do the things I listed above and the author of this article is trying to say that it’s okay to do this to a man. She cries rape which we all know is a load of shit, so people feel bad for her. The Author of this article and Donna are not feminists but are feminazis which don’t care about equal rights or equal responsibilities but only care about attacking and bullying males for being male.


    • Jacko,

      Thank you for your submission. I have approved it, and it is visible for the world and Zeus to see. However, I must address the facts of the article contra the apoplectic, aerated response. Firstly, the article never says its is acceptable to “rape, beat, murder and mutilate a white male” under any circumstances, and I would ask that you find the time to review the piece more carefully before making such inflammatory remarks. Second, Ms Hylton’s accusations of rape are neither verified or discounted, so we don’t “all know [this is] a load of shit.” Finally, as “the author” of this article, I can only state that you are incorrect, I am a gay man, and I do not support bullying, harassment, etc towards any individual.

      Best regards,

      TR Cochran

      Liked by 1 person

      • Donna Hylton is not a murderer. Although, dear reader, you may think she is, because she has been ‘convicted.’ That there is your opening statement, The issue with it is that she murdered a man for the sake of murdering a man. Don’t you think that’s wrong? obviously not as you are defending her. Also some other things, I chose to skim through your article as its extremely bias and when summed up is pretty much-defending someone for lying and murdering so. Also, I don’t care if you are straight, gay, male, female, black, white, yellow, red or from Mars if you think it’s okay to defend a murderer as she had mummy issues which you have stated in your report.


      • Jacko,

        Again, thank you for your impassioned engagement with this subject.

        Ms Hylton did not – in my opinion, nor it seems in the opinion of the court or the subsequent interview in Psychology Today – commit murder “for the sake of murdering a man.” She did not actually kill anyone. She was involved in the circumstances that led to the murder of someone, and she is culpable, no matter what age or experience, for that involvement. That does not mean that she is a murderer. She may be de jure a convicted murderer, but de facto, she is empirically not. I am not here to defend Ms Hylton, yet I am here to reveal a shocking truth: Black women are treated far worse in front of judges than almost any other group. Why did the person who actually killed the victim get some 10 years less than Ms Hylton? That’s a good question, isn’t it? Is it not worth thinking about systemic, historical injustices and the ways in which they weigh upon the present?

        Best regards,

        TR Cochran


  14. I’m wondering what you are getting out of your part in this mess (financially).
    You seem to be blindly defending her because she is black (automatically making her a victim), and she was raped by every male in her life (really?), and her evil mother abused her and sold her (again, really?). You never question her story.
    You ask others to defend their sources, but you seem to think you do not need to, because you respect the privacy of the people involved. How about you ask her sister yourself? Or do you think her sister is in on the plot?
    The problem with what you’re doing, is that you diminish credibility in the black movement, the women’s movement and the defense movement of women who do kill their actual abusers, all while pretending to be on their side, making yourself the defending hero, the knight in shining armor, rushing to this poor victimized girl’s defence.



    • Barbara,

      Thank you for your engagement with this article.

      First, I did not – and will not – ever receive any remuneration, payment, goods, etc for, because of, or in any way related to this article. In point of fact, I published this article despite Ms Hylton’s agent aggressively saying she violated their intellectual property agreement, and I note this interaction at the end of the article.

      Second, I am not defending Ms Hylton, but rather contextualizing the larger, macro-structures around racism and incarceration. Why did she receive some 10 years more than the person who directly killed the victim? This is a question that goes without an adequate answer, considering that Ms Hylton did not, in fact, kill the victim. Also, I am relaying the entire arc of Ms Hylton’s life from her perspective. And she does speak of “her truth,” which may or may not be objectively true. I am not here to cast ultimate judgement on the veracity of Ms Hylton’s claims, and I am also not here to defend them either.

      Third, I did allow, and you can see this above, Ms Hylton’s sister’s response to be published here, as a right of reply.

      I hope that clears things up.

      Best regards,

      TR Cochran

      Liked by 1 person

  15. While I share the sentiments of most comments already posted here, I would like to applaud you for your calm responses to all of them. I find it difficult to support presumptive, emotionally charged arguments, even if I personally agree with them. Furthermore, I find it amusing that comment sections turn people so arrogant and disrespectful towards their fellow men. The Internet would benefit greatly from a little patience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Seb,

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

      This is a very intense, difficult subject to discuss, much less present from the perspective of the person convicted of murder. I have done my best to lay forward Ms. Hylton’s story, her personal narrative, and also allow for others to reply as they see fit, even if their responses are less than civil. I haven’t a side in this “debate,” I am a moderator or a story, with a particular structural analysis about why Ms. Hylton was incarcerated – and the length of the sentence, being higher than those who were directly involved in the act of murder – and I respect other’s opinions, including yours.


      TR Cochran

      Liked by 1 person

  16. TR,

    I am reading this after hearing that Donna spoke as part of the DNC.

    For me, a person deserving a second chance, much less a platform, depends largely on if that person has shown regret, repented (turned) and sought forgiveness for their wrong deeds. Have they changed direction, or justified and rationalized their behavior?

    Have you or anyone else heard Donna say, “That was wrong. I was wrong. What we did was wrong. I should not have done that. We should not have done that. I’m sorry I played any part in that.” Is there any evidence she sought forgiveness from his family? Did she address the court and say anything indicating remorse?

    In your piece, I find this shockingly absent. I interview many people for jobs that come from criminal backgrounds. My wife is a social worker For someone who claims to be victimized so many times, and in so many ways, and overcomes it to the extent she has, to not communicate regret or responsibility or sorrow or repentance when she looks back and talks about a victim – that is incomprehensible. Even inhuman.



  17. Wow every excuse in the world she and the rest should have been put out of their misery for such a heinous act only justifying by he is a faggot anyway omg death is the only justice she deserves


    • Thank you for your comment. I apologize for the delay in approving it. I have been in hospital. Your thoughts and reflections are now public. I don’t think that Ms Hylton has ever (publicly) ‘justified’ the murder based on the victim’s sexual orientation.


  18. So I was raped when I was 19, and again when I was 23. I also had a very abusive upbringing. The pain in my life caused me to have so much EMPATHY for others because I knew what it was like to be at the other end of the abuse. I am not buying a lot of what she says. NOT once does she take ANY ownership for her actions. I know that I have anger as an adult and sometime yell at my children but I ALWAYS apologize to them and admit my mistakes to them and remind my kids that I am a person that makes mistakes People who can’t say “I made this mistake which then led to this” will never be rehabilitated. She is too comfy being a victim that she can’t say “I victimized someone else and for that I am sorry”. She only says “I couldn’t save that guy but its not my fault.” REALLY???


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