A New York woman is facing manslaughter charges in connection with the death of a popular 87-year-old vocal coach, and police say the suspect watched as the victim was carried away by ambulance before hiding out at her parents’ house.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Barbara Maier Gustern was pushed from behind on March 10 at around 9:30 p.m. as she left her Chelsea residence off of West 28th Street in Chelsea. Friends who were at her home found her in the apartment lobby covered in blood after a bicyclist spotted her hurt outside and brought her in.
Gustern was taken to a hospital for medical treatment after hitting her head during the fall. She ultimately passed away from her injuries after being placed on life support.
Police released security footage of the incident, which showed Lauren Pazienza, of Port Jefferson, reportedly shoving Gustern before fleeing the scene. Police had been looking for Pazienza for weeks when she arrived at the police station Tuesday with her lawyer and turned herself in.
According to the criminal complaint, Pazienza called the victim a “b****” before forcibly shoving her in an unprovoked attack, Fox News reports. Before losing consciousness, Gustern reportedly told a friend that she had been shoved “as hard as she had ever been hit in her life.”
Investigators who reviewed security footage of the incident said Pazienza stayed in the area after the attack, even watching an ambulance arrive to assist the victim. Around 30 minutes later, according to police, the suspect was seen entering New York City’s Penn Station with her fiance.
Afterward, Pazienza allegedly went to great lengths to cover her tracks. She hid out at her parents’ Long Island house while deleting her social media and wedding website, according to the arrest complaint. Pazienza later turned herself in after police showed up at her parents’ home, where her father allegedly claimed she wasn’t there.
A judge set Lauren Pazienza’s bail at $500,000 during her Tuesday court appearance. Pazienza’s parents were reportedly in the courtroom during the hearing.
Last Tuesday, NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig called the incident “disgusting,” pointing out the “disgraceful offense committed against a vulnerable, elderly female who was doing nothing but walking down the streets of New York City.”
So far, no motive for the attack is known.
The story is developing. Check back for updates.
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[Feature Photo: Facebook/Barbara Gustern]