A 26-year-old woman from New York is now facing 25 years behind bars for the alleged manslaughter and second-degree assault of a Broadway vocal coach.
Barbara Gustern, a beloved 87-year-old voice teacher who once worked with Blondie singer Debbie Harry, was killed as she was walking towards a cab outside of her Chelsea apartment building earlier this month. The incident occurred at around 8:30 p.m. on March 10. As Barbara was headed to the car, a woman allegedly pushed her to the ground so hard that she hit her head and was “covered in blood” as a bystander came to her aid.
While in the hospital, Gustern told police that a woman had crossed the street and approached her directly. After calling her a “bitch,” the woman shoved her “as hard as she had ever been hit in her life.” Sadly, four days later after falling into a coma, the vocal coach died from her injuries on March 15. Her grandson has been trying to track down information about the suspect ever since.
His quest might have finally come to an end…
While Barbara was fighting for her life in the hospital, that suspect was allegedly trying to cover up her tracks. According to police, Lauren Pazienza was seen in security footage shortly after the incident went down, waiting in the area until the injured elder was taken away in an ambulance. Per reports, she then went home to Astoria, Queens, quit her job, deleted all her social media, and shut down a website that was advertising her wedding to Naveen Pereira in June, prosecutors claim. Wow!
The day after Gustern passed away, Lauren allegedly packed up her things and fled to her parents’ home in Long Island. But before getting settled there, she reportedly left her phone at her aunt’s house so the police wouldn’t find it. Um, that’s a lot of cover-up!
After an initial investigation, police received an anonymous tip that Pazienza had committed the crime and that she was hiding out with her parents on Saturday. That same day, the NYPD released a photo of a red-headed young woman who they believed was responsible for the deadly attack — and the two have a striking resemblance.
BREAKING: Sources have confirmed to me that a suspect is in #NYPD custody in the shocking shoving death of beloved vocal coach Barbara #Gustern. Lauren Pazienza of Port Jefferson, LI, surrendered to detectives this morning. She will be charged with manslaughter. pic.twitter.com/3pvofwWTJ7
— N. J. Burkett (@njburkett7) March 22, 2022
The photos (above) were taken from a security cam in the subway.
Despite the similarities, Pazienza’s attorney Arthur Aidala was confident the photos proved nothing, telling DailyMail.com on Tuesday:
“What they have is a photo of someone who looks like my client getting on the subway. This attack did not happen on the subway.”
And yet Lauren turned herself in on the same day, showing up to the station with her attorney by her side. She has been charged with manslaughter. According to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, her bail was set at $500,000. A court hearing has been set for Friday.
As of now, there’s no apparent connection between Barbara and Lauren. You can learn about this devastating case (below):
While we know nothing will bring Barbara back, we hope the police can get to the bottom of this alleged attack to give the family some closure.