The vicious attack and rape of a jogger in Central Park by a gang of teen-age hoodlums has left many New Yorkers trying to make sense of a senseless crime.

The victim, a 28-year-old investment banker, remains in a coma. Eight of her alleged attackers, ages 14 to 17, are in custody. Two were indicted Wednesday and indictments against the others were expected Thursday.But by some accounts, the youths seemed unlikely attackers although several came from broken homes and all lived in a Harlem neighborhood surrounded by drugs, alcohol, crime and poverty.

"I deal with kids in trouble, these were not kids in trouble," said Bernard Diamond, principal of the junior high school two of the boys attended. "They come from homes of parents who care, parents who are as shocked as we are."

Their victim was on a solitary jog in the northern end of the park the night of April 19. She was beaten unconscious with a lead pipe and rock, raped and left bound and nearly naked. She was found several hours later.

Doctors at Metropolitan Hospital, where she has been in critical condition in a coma since the attack, say that although she may survive it's unlikely she will ever recover completely.

The woman apparently was one of several targets of the gang as it went "wilding" through the park that night.

The term was a new one to the police, but not the activity. For years, loosely organized packs of marauding youths have roamed the streets and parks bullying, robbing and attacking victims at random.

"I ain't going to say it's fun. It's getting your anger out at somebody. It's like stealing fruit. It's not 'cause you are hungry," a 15-year-old boy who said he was a friend of one of the suspects told The New York Times.

The assailants reportedly used racial epithets in one of eight assaults during the rampage and discussed "getting whitey" or "getting a white jogger." The victim is white and the accused attackers are black.

However, law enforcement experts say victims of the so-called "wolf packs" are more often black than white, and the lawyer for one of the youths denied the boy suggested the gang go after a white victim.

The suspects are being held on charges of attempted murder, rape and assault and could face other charges.

Lisa Whitten of the national board of the Association of Black Psychologists said the violence of city life allowed the boys to bury normal emotions in the frenzy of their attack.