'Last Call' Preview: A Bartender Recalls Meeting the NYC Serial Killer in HBO's True-Crime Doc (Exclusive)

The four-part HBO documentary series, 'Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York,' airs Sundays on HBO and Max.

During the early 1990s, amid a growing wave of anti-LGBTQ violence and the ongoing AIDS crisis, there was also a person known as the Last Call Killer stalking and terrorizing New York City's queer community, particularly gay men who frequented piano bars, like Townhouse and Five Oaks.  

As HBO's gripping true-crime docuseries, Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York, continues to recount what happened to these men, ET has an exclusive sneak peek of episode three, which focuses on the murder of Michael Sakara, who was last seen on July 30, 1993 at the Five Oaks bar in Greenwich Village. 

In the chilling clip, bartender Lisa Hall recounts a run-in with the man responsible for taking the life of her friend. "Michael and I were left at the bar. I swear we were there for two-and-a-half hours by ourselves. Then something happened," she says. 

"You know, I'll never forget it," Hall continues, recalling how odd it was when a clean-cut-looking guy entered Five Oaks and sat down right next to Sakara despite the rest of the bar being empty. "He ordered a scotch and coke and I gave him his drink. And Michael says, 'Lisa this is so and so, he's a nurse at St. Vincent's.'" 


Despite the fact that Sakara apparently knew this person, Hall, who worked most nights, didn't remember ever meeting him before. "Michael introduced me to this man. And I just remember it was a common name," she says before going on to explain how once he came in she was able to start cleaning up before heading home for the night. 

"Within this short amount of time, Michael, I guess, decided to take a ride with this man," Hall says of what would become the last time she ever saw her friend alive. The next day, his body and possessions were found in Upstate New York. 

As depicted in the episode, Sakara's marked the fourth known murder by the Last Call Killer, prompting the creation of a task force that involved authorities from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania as they attempted to catch the man responsible as national media outlets finally started to take notice of what was happening in New York City. 

Directed by Anthony Caronna and executive produced by Howard Gertler, Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York is a powerful four-part documentary chronicling these horrifying murders that took place between 1991 and 1993. While the identity of the killer was eventually discovered and that man, Richard Rogers, was found guilty and sent to prison, the focus of the series is not on him, but rather the four lives he cut short as well as the prejudices of the time, which allowed him to get away with his crimes for so long.

Through interviews with family members, former lovers and friends of Sakara as well as Peter Anderson, Thomas Mulcahy and Anthony Marrero, and former members of the NYC Anti-Violence Project, audiences get a portrait of not only those four victims but what life was like for the LGBTQ community at the time. 

"When we took a look at the stories of the victims, they led incredibly rich, very complicated lives. And in terms of TV -- that’s drama," Gertler told Variety about adapting Elon Green's book, Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York, for HBO, explaining that "there was a unique opportunity to tell the story that sat at a very unique intersection of queer history. There was also a unique opportunity to tell the story of anti-violence as it related to queer life in the early nineties." 

The end result is an important series that's not only a must-see for the queer community, but for all audiences as it turns back the clock on a crucial time in social justice and activism and injects a new perspective into the true-crime genre

Episode three of Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York airs Sunday, July 23 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and Max before concluding with episode four on July 30.