Lauren Pazienza: NY socialite who shoved elderly woman to death has history of disturbing behavior

Lauren Pazienza: NY socialite who shoved elderly woman to death has history of disturbing behavior
Lauren Pazienza (R) shoved Barbara Maier Gustern (L) to death (Photo by Facebook/Barbara Maier Gustern and Crimestoppers)

Lauren Pazienza, a New York City socialite and manslaughter suspect, has been accused of bullying a classmate in the past. After reportedly shoving an 87-year-old Broadway vocal instructor to death in an unprovoked attack, Pazienza, 26, is facing first-degree manslaughter and second-degree assault charges.

Pazienza began bullying her classmate when he moved a few doors down from her in second grade, according to a former classmate who spoke to Fox News Digital on condition of anonymity. According to the classmate, the defendant "always had a crazy look in her eyes" and would kick him and call other kids names. He further said that because of the bullying, a teacher had to relocate their seats apart in one classroom.


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A teacher at Ward Melville High School, where Pazienza grew up in the historic middle-class village of Setauket, New York, told Fox News Digital that her colleagues with children who went to school with Pazienza remembered her as "odd." She graduated from high school in 2013.

Despite prosecutors' request that Pazienza be remanded, a Manhattan judge set her bail at $500,000 or $1 million bond at a Tuesday afternoon court hearing. Pazienza's attorney Arthur Aidala, who has represented clients ranging from Rudy Giuliani to Harvey Weinstein, told Fox News Digital, "We are pleased that the Court granted bail to Ms. Pazienza, and we expect her to be released in the coming days. We anxiously await the production of the discovery material by the District Attorney’s Office. The Pazienza family joins the rest of the City in grieving the loss of Barbara Gustern."

Pazienza declined to speak with a Fox News Digital reporter inside Rikers Island on Wednesday afternoon. She entered the visiting room dressed in a grey jail jumpsuit with no handcuffs and her red hair down and slightly untidy.



Pazienza is accused of brutally slamming Barbara Gustern, an elderly victim she didn't know, to the ground at West 28th Street and Eighth Avenue on March 10 around 8:30 pm ET. She then ran away from the scene. According to the criminal complaint, Pazienza also called Gustern a "b****" before the incident. After the claimed assault, Gustern's head was bleeding, and witnesses hurried to assist her in standing. The woman allegedly informed a friend that Pazienza punched her "as hard as she had ever been hit in her life" before passing out, according to the lawsuit.

Gustern was transported to the hospital and given life-saving treatments but lost her brain function. Doctors put her on life support before declaring her dead on March 15. According to the complaint, the police utilized surveillance footage to track down the suspect, who remained in the area for more than 20 minutes after the attack and was seen having a violent argument with a guy, thought to be her fiancé, around seven minutes after the victim was shoved.



Pazienza was allegedly spotted watching the ambulance arrive thirteen minutes after the attack. She and her fiancé allegedly departed the area shortly after and were seen 30 minutes later entering Penn Station in New York City. Her arrival at her Astoria house about 9:50 pm ET in the exact clothes she wore at the scene was also captured on camera.

Prosecutors also claim that Pazienza took precautions to avoid being caught, including erasing her social media accounts and wedding website, escaping to her parents' Long Island home, and hiding her phone at a relative's house, according to the complaint.

However, she was identified as a suspect by at least two tips. Aidala earlier told reporters that his client had been accused of doing "a horrible act." "She’s a very moral, right, just person who went to high school, went to college, has a job, a fiancé, has a family. And for her she’s in the twilight zone. She’s destroyed," he stated.

After allegedly eluding law enforcement for over two weeks prior to her arrest, Pazienza poses a severe flight risk, the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office stated Tuesday. She could spend up to 25 years in prison if convicted of manslaughter. Pazienza's next appearance in court is set for March 25.

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