2004_06_jsteinberg.jpg

The idea of convicted murderer Joel Steinberg going free has sent the NYC press into a frenzy, with the Daily News going as far as editorializing what New Yorkers should do when they see Steinberg on the cover. Steinberg became a symbol of horror when his 6 year-old adopted daugther, Lisa, was found viciously beaten, in the squalor of his Greenwich Village brownstone. Steinberg, a wealthy attorney, and his former lover Hedda Nussbaum were charged with Lisa's death, though Nussbaum received immunity after it became clear Steinberg beat and intimidated her. Also troubling was the fact that the city, after receiving tips from Steinberg's neighbors that there was child abuse, mishandled the investigation and did not find anything wrong. Gothamist vividly remembers the case, because at our young age, it was unthinkable that anyone could do something so horrible, that teachers would see a child thin and bruised and be unable to help, that the sad, battered, broken face of Nussbaum was actually real and not a mask. It also shattered many ideas that just because a home looked good on paper (father a lawyer, mother a former book editor) meant that it was a good home.

2004_06_houseofterror.jpg

Nussbaum has fled her current home in Westchester, as she will probably be inundated with media requets. Newsday reported that Graceann Lamberta, a city councilwoman upstate and the grandmother of Steinberg and Nussbaum's other adopted son (a baby when Lisa died, who returned to his biological mother), asked that Steinberg and Nussbaum "fade into the darkness," adding that Lisa's death helped enact child abuse laws that saved lives.

Court TV has an extensive write-up of the Steinberg case. The Preppie Murder occured a year earlier, and the two murders painted a terrible and telling picture of New York.