Suspect in Shoving Death of NYC Music Coach Hid at Her Parents’ Home

Lauren Pazienza has been charged with manslaughter in the fatal shoving death of NYC music coach Barbara Maier Gustern.

March 23, 2022
Lauren Pazienza (l), 26, is charged with manslaughter in the shoving death of 87-year-old Barbara Maier Gustern (r)

Lauren Pazienza (l), 26, is charged with manslaughter in the shoving death of 87-year-old Barbara Maier Gustern (r)

Photo by: Lauren Pazienza via NYPD Crime Stoppers [left]; Barbara Maier Gustern via Facebook [right]

Lauren Pazienza via NYPD Crime Stoppers [left]; Barbara Maier Gustern via Facebook [right]

Lauren Pazienza, 26, is a suspect in a horrific incident where a beloved New York City music coach was shoved to the pavement and later died. She managed to evade authorities for nearly two weeks before turning herself in and being arrested on Tuesday, March 22.

At around 8:30 p.m. on March 10, the suspect allegedly approached 87-year-old Barbara Maier Gustern near West 28th Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan, according to NBC News. She then cursed at Gustern before forcibly shoving her to the pavement. Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Justin McNabney said there was no provocation for the attack.

A cyclist witnessed the attack and stepped in to help Barbara Maier Gustern to her feet. The victim was bleeding badly from the head wound, so she was taken to Bellevue Hospital where she died from her injuries five days later, reported Eyewitness News.

Ms. Gustern was a longtime vocal coach who had worked with stars like Debbie Harry of Blondie and Taylor Mac. She was known to be very supportive of her students. On the night she was attacked, she had gone out to see a student perform. Another student, Melinda Pope DeRocker, told The New York Times., “She didn’t just change the voice. She changed lives.”

A security camera revealed that Lauren Pazienza left the scene while Gustern lay bleeding, but she remained in the area for more than 20 minutes. She and her fiancé were then caught on camera leaving New York City via Penn Station. She took a train to her parents’ house on Long Island where she went into hiding. She deleted her wedding registry website and deleted her social media accounts. She stopped using her cellphone after leaving it at her aunt’s home.

Days after police released photos of Pazienza to the public, she ultimately decided to turn herself in. She surrendered to authorities at the 10th Precinct in New York on Tuesday, March 22.

Lauren Pazienza has been charged with manslaughter, and she’s being held on $500,000 cash bail or a $1 million bond. Barbara Maier Gustern's funeral will be held on Saturday, March 26 at 2 p.m. ET at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Manhattan.

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