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NY mom holds baby and jumps to death, baby survives

Lawyer, 44, jumped to her death from eighth floor of New York apartment with baby in her arms

By Colleen Long and Deepti Hajela
Associated Press

NEW YORK — A woman clutching her baby son in her arms plunged eight stories out of an apartment window to her death in an apparent suicide on Wednesday, but the baby survived, police said.

Cynthia Wachenheim was found on the street with her son, 10-month-old Keston, near her arms. A police officer who responded took the baby to a hospital, where he was listed in critical but stable condition.

Police discovered a seven-page suicide note under a bed in the apartment Wachenheim shared with her husband. In the note, the 45-year-old Wachenheim said she recognized what she was about to do was "evil" but she was concerned about how her child was developing, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the case. The official was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

It was unclear whether the baby, who neighbors said was an only child, had any mental or physical problems.

A window to the West Harlem apartment was wide open, and there were no signs of struggle inside, police said. There were no safety bars on the apartment's windows. Surveillance footage showed Wachenheim's husband leaving the apartment about an hour before her plunge from the window with the baby.

Area resident Steven Dominguez, 18, was walking to a grocery store with his mother, Adelina Dominguez, when he saw the woman fall. He said the baby bounced off her body, breaking some of the impact of the fall, before hitting the ground nearby.

"I heard a scream like a yell," Dominguez said. "When I got closer, I saw the baby crying."

He said the baby was face down.

"I was shocked," he said. "I couldn't believe it."

Dominguez said his mother went to pick up the baby but an emergency response person told her to stand back.

The apartment is in a relatively new building facing Jackie Robinson Park. A crowd of onlookers had gathered nearby Wednesday afternoon, awaiting the medical examiner's office, which would determine the official cause of the woman's death.

Resident Yaa Dwamena, 32, said she's lived in the building for several years and as long as she's been there she's seen Wachenheim.

"She was very nice, very friendly, very warm," Dwamena said.

She said that the last time she saw Wachenheim was last week.

"I wouldn't have thought anything was wrong with her," she said. "They were a happy-looking family. I wouldn't think anything like this would happen."

Wachenheim went to law school at Columbia University, and her father was a state police spokesman before his death in 2011. She worked in state Supreme Court in Manhattan doing legal research for judges, court officials said.

Associated PressCopyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

"We are all deeply saddened about this tragic incident," state courts spokesman David Bookstaver said. "Our thoughts are with Ms. Wachenheim's family."

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Ruby Fannin Campbell Ruby Fannin Campbell Thursday, March 14, 2013 9:21:10 AM A very sad story.
Kurtis Cook Kurtis Cook Thursday, March 14, 2013 10:13:25 AM For someone to take an innocent life in this fashion is insane. Hope the baby pulls through and lives a healthy life.
Julie Hayman Julie Hayman Thursday, March 14, 2013 10:52:25 AM What sad news hope the baby pulls through god bless the family and the friends xx
Ronda Owens Vanek Ronda Owens Vanek Thursday, March 14, 2013 11:31:48 AM It is one thing to take your own life, but to take the life of the baby...unbelievable. Hopefully this baby makes a recovery. As for the mother, no words to express how I feel about her choice.
Eric Bergeron Eric Bergeron Thursday, March 14, 2013 12:20:15 PM Ouffff c'est malade ca....
Carolyn A. Prunier Carolyn A. Prunier Thursday, March 14, 2013 12:34:46 PM And... where was the husband/fther during all this???
Debra Lynn Debra Lynn Thursday, March 14, 2013 2:55:51 PM To take your own life is one decision, but to risk a child's life as well is just crazy. Hopefully this baby pulls through
George Fitnss Resch George Fitnss Resch Thursday, March 14, 2013 3:39:34 PM This is WAY too sad and unique of a story for anybody to judge. Count your lucky stars that you have no idea how somebody could do this.
Ronda Owens Vanek Ronda Owens Vanek Friday, March 15, 2013 3:17:37 AM Most suicidal people do not tell others their plan, they just do it. The father/husband, I am sure, didn't know her plan.
Carolyn A. Prunier Carolyn A. Prunier Friday, March 15, 2013 5:12:42 AM So sad that she wasn't able to confide her problems with someone... But, as you said... most suicidal people can't and/or won't...
Barbara J Power Barbara J Power Sunday, March 24, 2013 1:07:48 PM People judge, but suicidal people are mentally ill and need compassion, not judgement. It's cold, cruel world out there, especially when people lose touch with reality. Unless you've attempted suicide or lost someone to suicide, you cannot know the agony involved for the victim and for those who loved her/him.

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