LI woman arrested, charged in NYC shoving death of 87-year-old
The NYPD says a 26-year-old Long Island woman has been arrested and charged in the death of an 87-year-old woman in New York City.
Lauren Pazienza, formerly of Port Jefferson, is charged with manslaughter in the death of Barbara Maier Gustern. She turned herself in to the NYPD early Tuesday.
Gustern, a well-known Broadway singing coach who worked with Debbie Harry from Blondie, was shoved near West 28th Street and Eighth Avenue on March 10. She fell and hit her head in the incident. Gustern died from her injuries March 15.
Her grandson AJ posted a photo to her Facebook account, writing, "Today, at 11:15 a.m., we have lost one of the brightest little flames to ever grace this world."
The 26-year-old pushed Gustern in what is being described as an unprovoked attack between two strangers.
Prosecutors say the suspect was most recently living in Astoria, Queens--but was hiding out at her parents' house in Port Jefferson.
Following the attack, prosecutors say Pazienza attempted to avoid arrest by deleting her social media accounts and a website for her upcoming wedding. She also stopped using her cell phone.
Police were at the family's Port Jefferson home Monday after receiving a tip she was there, but were turned away.
No clear motive for the attack has been released.
Neighbors who live near Pazienza's former residence describe the family as good people and were stunned to hear the news.
"I'm dumbfounded and shocked," says Walter H.
Pazienza's attorney told News 12 she is not commenting at this time.
Bail was set at $500,000 cash in court on Tuesday.
If convicted, Pazienza could face up to 25 years in prison.
A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled Debbie Harry's name. This has been corrected.