Jewish Child Survives Mom's Suicide Plunge

Harlem Woman Lept Out of Her Eighth Story Apartment

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By Seth Berkman and Anne Cohen

Published March 15, 2013.
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A Harlem mother jumped eight stories to her death with her 10-month-old son strapped to her chest —miraculously, the baby survived.

Cynthia Wachenheim, 44, landed on her back allowing baby Keston to roll away unscathed after the impact, the New York Daily News reported Wednesday.

Wachenheim, left a 13-page suicide note for her husband, Hal Bacharach, the report added.

“The note said she was not happy and she talked about what she planned to do,” a source told the Daily News.

In the note, Wachenheim is “saying to her husband, ‘I love you. I’m making you suffer. You’re going to think I’m evil,’” the source added.

From the note, largely incomprehensible according to the Daily News, police learned that Wachenheim believed her child had cerebral palsy.

Bacharach, 48, was at already at work when his wife jumped, the report stated. According to the New York Post, the couple had been arguing in their apartment at the Sutton co-op at 147th Street and Bradhurst Avenue.

“When I came home they were arguing, and I actually stopped to listen and he was screaming at her, screaming at her and the baby was crying,“ a neighbor of the couple told Pix 11 News (see video below). “He just kept saying ‘Why wouldn’t you pick up the phone? Why? Why?’”

Witnesses to the scene were badly shaken.

I heard a scream, a scared scream,” witness Steven Dominguez, 18, told the New York Post. “I noticed a woman was falling. As she was coming down, she was coming down on her back. I saw the baby bounce on her chest and fall to the concrete. The baby started crying.”

A volunteer emergency recovery unit was called to the scene to gather the victims remains, to honor the Jewish precept of burying a body whole.

According to the Daily News report, a police source said the mother was taking antidepressants, possibly pointing to post-partum depression.

Wachenheim, a graduate of Columbia Law School was “on maternity leave from her $118,000-a-year job in the city court system,” the report added. She worked there for over 15 years. She attended B’nai Jeshurun and volunteered with the American Jewish World Service. She had also worked in Pakistan, advocating for women’s rights.


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