NEW YORK (WEHT) — An unprovoked attack left a beloved Boonville grandmother dead in New York City, police say. Now, the woman who presumably killed her has turned herself in.
Before her shocking death, 87-year-old Barbara Maier Gustern was an active singing coach who had worked with many performers of Broadway. Earlier this month, Gustern was wrapping up a rehearsal in Manhattan when a woman came up behind her and pushed her to the ground.
Gustern hit her head when she fell, giving her a severe head injury. The hospital listed Gustern in “serious” condition before her death. She passed away on March 15.
NYPD Chief James Essig previously called the shove a “disgusting, disgraceful offense committed against a vulnerable, elderly female who was doing nothing but walking down the streets of New York City.”
Police released video and images of the suspect, who walked away after the attack. Weeks later on Tuesday, Lauren Pazienza turned herself in for attacking Gustern. The 26-year-old Long Island resident is currently charged with manslaughter.
According to her obituary, Gustern grew up in Boonville, Indiana. As a child, she would entertain her family by standing on a chair and belting out tunes. In high school, she sang in a jazz group in Tell City. That became a regular Saturday night gig for a fraternal organization, where she was the replacement for Florence Henderson. At the age of 21, she arrived in New York City to get her master’s degree in psychology at Columbia University.
Her obituary also states that Barbara Maeir Gustern is survived by many friends and family, including grandson AJ Gustern, who was with her when she died. Images of Lauren Pazienza arrival at court can be found below. Eyewitness News will continue to update you with information as we receive it.
AP, WABC-TV and WPIX contributed to this report.