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52 Lock Up: Loss of Barbara Gustern

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By CadmaPublished 2 years ago 15 min read

Welcome back to 52 Lock Up, I am your Appletini Cadma of Bitten Apple TV. 52 lock up is a series I started to talk about one of my biggest passions of true crime. A new episode on every Cadmaniac Monday for 52 Mondays. Hope you guys enjoy, be sure to comment feedback, like and subscribe; Viewer discretion is always advised.

Today’s story starts in Long Island, NY with Lauren Pazienza. She was born to Daniel & Caroline Pazienza in Astoria Queens in 1996; growing up she was nicknamed Matilda. Her father runs a third generational family owned business for a cesspool service in Holtsville, NY. Lauren grew up with normal comfortable middle class living with her parents. She grew up in Suffolk County having access to the North Shore life in Long Island. She attended nationally ranked Ward Melville High School. The remaining social media of her life demonstrates that she was living the good life of Riley or trying to get there or appearing she was. One of her favorite activities was being a summer school camp counselor in Stony Brook and volunteering at a local nature preserve. when she graduated high school she attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in the city (NYC) and graduated with a marketing degree in 2017. She didn’t have interest joining the family business and wanted to venture out on what she wanted in life.

She pursued her marketing career and worked at many luxury goods and beverage companies, high end French furniture maker Roche Bobois; which she resigned from in December of her own accord to do bigger and better things apparently. She lived for the social life and attending to parties, events and all around having fun. From high school to college and life her now fiancé Naveen Pereira; who is a consultant at Microsoft were planning their wedding. Now the following information is a collection of accounts of others who have described her.

One FIT student said that she seemed nice to speak to but there were some other accounts of other things. “Karma is a bitch,” Trey Siemers, a former classmate posted on a public Facebook post about Pazienza. “She told the deans I called her a firecrotch and I got suspended for it. I didn’t even know what that meant at the time until they told me I said it to her.” ( For those who may not know fire crotch is a vulgar slang to say a person has red pubic hair. Another quote “Totally shocked and absolutely not surprised all at the same time,” former classmate Sean Foote wrote. Another Ward Melville alumni, Aileen Buccella, said Lauren “always seemed quiet and nice” always smiling. “I can totally see that if she was having a bad day and somebody was in front of her, walking too slow, she would push them.”

Daily Mail interview a former classmate stated Lauren is a person who does not have any empathy and was prone to speaking to people in a derogatory manner especially “fat people and deaf people”. There is video of her contorting her face and trying to speak like a deaf person to mock them. Another quote “She’s not a good person. She has a fiancé, and she went to high school, and she went to college but none of these parts of her life were normal,” from her former classmate. A neighbor described Lauren as manipulative especially with her fiancé Naveen. “He was reserved and very kind and seemed annoyed with her when I met him and fearful of her.” A former classmate added “I witnessed her behave recklessly. She would throw herself in front of cars in the street. She was a complete wild card.” Another classmate spoke with Fox News to tell them that Lauren bullied him after he moved a few doors down from her in the second grade and it was so bad that the teacher had to separate their seats in the classroom. The last quote is by a former friend added to the outlet: “She’s the poster child for white privilege. She never faced any consequences in her life. She was enabled by her parents who got her out of everything, but she called them stupid and basic.” She’s really good at making former friends. It was very difficult to find kind descriptions of her from people who knew her and for the few positive commentary I did find was “I always thought she was nice enough to strike up a conversation with, and we chatted often when we crossed paths at school,” said one FIT classmate who has not spoken to her since graduation.”; that was the only one I could find. Karen is the popular term of this century and it seems like now that she’s made an incredulous mistake; everyone is coming out of the woodworks.

So with her fiancée she lived at the Shore Towers apartments on the Astoria waterfront in a one bedroom condo that is currently being put up for sale for about $600K; we’re talking balcony, indoor pool, tennis courts, a gym. So if you know anyone shopping; just saying. Continuing the consistent love mail news outlets are getting about Lauren, some of her neighbors told the New York Post that Lauren was always looking for a confrontation. “There was always an issue with her and someone in the building,” or another neighbor told the Daily News “she’s had friction with people in the building” An anonymous former classmate described Lauren as “the poster child for white privilege,” enabled by parents “who got her out of everything,” and added that she was “pure trouble.”

Let’s talk about her polar opposite Barbara Maier. Barbara was born on February 10, 1935 Boonville, Indiana to Charles E. Maier and Gladys Hester Maier. Growing up she was heavily loved and she discovered her passion of singing and music. She achieved her B.A. from DePauw University and then completed her masters in psychology at Columbia University. She did work in psychology before her passion for musicals took over. One night she was singing at the Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale and it was love at first note with her future husband Josef Donald Gustern. They would wed on July 27th, 1963 in her hometown of Boonville, Indiana. A year later the married couple would be casted together in The Threepenny Opera; which is about the perspective of a socialist looking at the capitalistic world. When she was 40 years old she began her musical teaching career at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Her teaching and her voice were so notable that she had Debbie Harry from Blondie as one of her students and Taylor Mac, Justin Vivian Bond, Diamanda Galas and Kathleen Hanna. The couple did have a daughter who unfortunately died in 2003 and her husband passed away in 2017. Her daughter did have a son nicknamed AJ. Regardless of her losses she always kept her cheery demeanor and encouraged others to aim for the moon and land on the stars.

When Barbara was and is discussed family, friends, students, neighbors have only the most positive things to say. They described her as a resilient strong woman who persevered through life’s tribulations.

Now how do these two meet? Well, Lauren was out celebrating with Naveen on March 10, 2022; 100 days before their planned June wedding. While celebrating the engaged couple visited a number of art galleries, drank several glasses of wine and purchased a meal from a food court into Manhattan’s Chelsea Park. Soon the location would be closing and the Parks Department employee approached the couple kindly to let them know they would be closing soon. Lauren has a Karen moment and lost her temper and began screaming and cursing the employee out. In the midst of her rage, she turned and threw all of the food at her fiancé and stormed out of the park. Filled with rage she leaves Naveen behind. Naveen does not know where to find her and starts looking for her and eventually decides to leaves her to cool off; and heads back to their waterfront apartment in Astoria (as he stated). While Naveen is heading home Lauren spots Barbara waiting for a cab. She was heading to Joe’s Pub at the Public Theatre. Lauren at 5’7” screams at 4’11 86 year old Barbara Gustern “B**ch!” Without provocation then proceeds to make her way towards her. Lauren with all of her might shoved Barbara.

Barbara being easy to overpower due to size and age would fall to the ground and hits the left side of her head on the pavement. Her skull began to bleed out on 28th street. Public Columbia Health explains that over the age of 60 the human brain volume continues to shrink a little in certain parts. Barbara’s brain would have extra space to “swish” around in her skull. The velocity of being shoved and hitting her head would send the brain going down and very quickly back in the other direction upon contact. She had an open brain injury and bled all over the sidewalk. Instead of rectifying the situation Lauren walked away and left Barbara on the floor bleeding. It is possible survive a brain injury but for those who do survive will face long term effects in their physical and mental abilities as well as emotions and personality. Lauren could have called EMS but instead walks away. Perhaps if she had received medical attention immediately; perhaps she would have survived but with the severity of her injury it is impossible to know the quality of life she would have had afterwards.

After attacking Barbara, Lauren calls her fiancé Naveen like “hey boo, let’s meet”. Naveen goes to meet her but allegedly she had not mentioned the shoving when she saw him. She actually began another argument and telling him that he ruined her night. Her stayed quiet and left her to be. I dont understand why toxic people can’t just date each other and get a therapist, she might as well as defecated on his pillow; but I digress. Around 30 minutes later, Lauren and Naveen would be seen entering Penn station to head to Times Square to catch the N train to Astoria. They arrived home around 9:50p.m. Now it is unclear of when Lauren did this particular thing but this is before they arrived home; Lauren watched an ambulance arrive by the crime scene to take her away. There are no reports of Lauren making that 911 call herself; someone else called it in for Barbara. Right before bed time after all of those shenanigans, Lauren tells her fiancée that she pushed someone and he asked her “why?”; and her response was “I might have said something to her but I’m unsure”. The thing she was so “unsure” about cost Barbara’s life 5 days later.

Two days later Lauren sees news on the assault; she shows her fiancée the article. Naveen noticed that she became incredulously nervous. She begins following the case like most guilty people and she later would confess to her cousin. Lauren then decides to do the following, she flees to Long Island, deletes all of her social media accounts (some remnants are still around), quit her job, took down her wedding website, stopped using her cell phone and eventually ran to hide out at her aunties house. The police are cracking down on Lauren and went to visit her parents house, after an anonymous tip comes in identifying her…because she’s really good at making friend. When the police did reach out to them her father answered and said that she was not home and they are not allowed into the home. Lauren eventually turns herself in. She was originally held in jail without bail arguing that she was a threat to others and a flight risk; especially demonstrated her recent immediate activities. So far during her trial, her attorney tried to make the comparison that “pushing someone on the sidewalk is not the same as pushing someone off of a cliff”; I disagree and I do not feel like that should have to be explained.

Barbara’s funeral was packed and filled with every life she’s ever touched and inspired. In her honor by the church you’ll find pennies are all over the sidewalk as a way to give good luck to whoever finds it in her honor. After the service, many of those who attended relocated to Joe’s Pub, where she was going to perform and her students were supposed to take the stage and perform in honor of her. The heartache in the air was too much but there was a pink orchid and a photo of her on the spotlight. Everyone drank and ate, and shared all of their happy memories with her form her bawdy humor regardless of her age. Sharing her stories that she told others to help them through their difficult times. One attendee whom Barbara had officiated her marriage stated, “She was part of our lives, and we were part of hers. She was the mom that accepted all of us freaks for who we are. Take some of [Barbara’s] energy, if you can, with you — acceptance, love, and kindness, and being a fucking badass doing whatever the fuck you want — into your everyday life and others’ lives.” They all gave her one last standing ovation.

Two completely different people. Lauren faces 25 years in prison for manslaughter which she plead not guilty to. Psychologically, it seems Lauren has been a bully from a young age; where would this come from? Home? Kids who generally bully tend to not be receiving attention at home. Bullying is not a spontaneous development and it’s generally not a one time thing. In Lauren’s case we need to look at your childhood and see her emotional intelligence and self awareness of feeling empathy. She could also have suffered from feeling insecure. She seemed to seek out a way to control everything from other people’s lives because either they feel their life is out of control or preventing someone from “hurting” them. Or in my unprofessional opinion, poor impulse control and intermittent explosive disorder seems to apply to Lauren. She had a need for power and status as well. Her father was very dismissive from what I understand towards the police which makes me wonder if her father has a temper. There is no excuse for her behavior at all but i do have an interest in understanding how did she become this way. She had opportunities that a lot of people do not always have the opportunity to get or think about.

Was Lauren suffering from one of the 5 major mood disorders? If she’s having anger issues is it because she’s suffering through major depression? Was there a health condition that lead to a mood disorder? Well that seems to be a no. Is this a substance induced mood disorder? Was she exploring substances and she couldn’t handle it. Is Lauren bipolar? The fifth major mood disorder is Dysthymia but those are the people who lose out on hope basically; it doesn’t seem to apply. Now bipolar is often referenced in common conversation.

Bipolar disorder is a mental mood disorder that causes unusual mood swings and concentration and interrupts a person’s ability to carry out daily tasks. There are three types of bipolar disorder which are Bipolar 1 Disorder, Bipolar 2 disorder and Cyclothymic disorder. Bipolar 1 disorder is defined by the manic episodes that will generally last at least seven days or the symptoms are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Similar to a spectrum of schizophrenia there is a timeframe where it has lasted as long as two weeks with a mixture of depression and manic symptoms at the same time. Bipolar two disorder is defined by the pattern of depressive episodes and hypo manic episodes but they are not full blown manic episodes you would see in bipolar 1 disorder. Cyclothymic disorder or Cyclothymia Are defined by the period of hypomanic symptoms as well as the depressive symptoms lasting for at least two years. Of course there’s always another category of unspecified bipolar related disorders as well.

What she did was wrong. She also showed she was aware that it was wrong. She showed that she understood the consequences of her actions. It is questionable if she felt remorse or simply thought it would be swept under the rug like her previous actions. Do I think she’s bipolar? I dont know, it’s a possibility BUT nothing takes away from her bursting passionate intention, comprehension of the situation and her choices afterwards. What I do think is whether there is a mental disorder or other things that developed over the years; it does seem like she wasn’t given enough attention or the right kind of attention. child? According to an Harvard article “Science shows that early exposure to maltreatment or neglect can disrupt healthy development and have lifelong consequences. When adult responses to children are unreliable, inappropriate, or simply absent, developing brain circuits can be disrupted, affecting how children learn, solve problems, and relate to others.”

Having money does not mean parents automatically pay attention to you where it matters most. Perhaps there soul crushing fights happening in the house. Whatever it is, I am looking at the home. I am looking at how she started intensely bullying from the second grade. The lying on another student to get them suspended, did she do that to feel like a victim and sympathy because she needed attention or did she do it because she wanted attention or something from her victim and when they didn’t comply to her needs and demands; she decided they should be punished? Why does a store closing make a person flip out and throw food at the fiancée whose doing nothing wrong? Was she being a Karen? Yes, but I want to know what are the ingredients that made this deadly brew. What if she was given the attention or help that she needed, we’d all be hanging out at Joe’s pub learning from Barbara still.

Thanks for tuning in, I’ll see you next with 52 lock up, 52 weeks with 52 crimes.



About the Creator


A sweetie pie with fire in her eyes

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