Saturday, November 10, 2007
Personal assistant tells how she killed Linda Stein
The New York City tabloids lay out the details of the Ramones curse murder, in black and white:
NY Daily News:
Natavia Lowery, 26, was charged with second-degree murder in the baffling Oct. 30 slaying of Linda Stein, a punk-rock pioneer who became wealthy by selling Manhattan's best real estate to Madonna, Sting, Steven Spielberg and other celebs.
Natavia Lowery calmly cleaned up the Fifth Ave. penthouse after killing the "Realtor to the Stars" in a rage-- then filched the dead woman's cell phone and used her ATM card to steal $800, cops said.
In the end, it appears the 62-year-old Stein's infamously volatile personality clashed violently with Lowery's short fuse, triggering the murder.
"She claimed Ms. Stein had been verbally abusive to her and had blown marijuana smoke into her face several times over her objections," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said as he announced the arrest.
"She claimed Stein used profanity and derogatory language, and she waved an object that Lowery described as a yoga stick at her. Lowery said she grabbed the yoga stick from Stein's hands and struck her with it six or seven times."
Lowery, who is black, said some of that derogatory language was racially offensive.
Officials said they believed that Ms. Stein... had tempestuous dealings with Ms. Lowery that escalated from animosity to violence.
“It was that Linda just kept yelling at her, over everything,” one law enforcement official said. “They fought. It was like a continuous thing, like a buildup.”
The final episode exploded in Ms. Stein’s 18th-floor apartment at 965 Fifth Avenue.
Ms. Lowery’s account... was videotaped.
NY Daily News:
She said on the morning of Oct. 30 she got into an argument with the brash Stein, who co-managed the Ramones before she began selling penthouses to the rich and famous.
Stein, 62, who was battling cancer, started blowing pot smoke in her face and berating her as she worked on the computer, Lowery told cops.
(A family lawyer said that Ms. Stein occasionally smoked marijuana to ease the pain from recurring bouts of cancer.)
NY Daily News:
"Get the f---ing e-mails! How can you be so f---ing slow!" Stein supposedly bellowed, a police source said.
Stein, who had private yoga sessions in her $2.5 million pad, was waving a 4-pound strength-building yoga stick at Lowery as she yelled, the assistant told cops.
After Lowery retrieved the e-mails, Stein offered to buy her lunch as a peace offering.
"I've got my own money. I don't need you to buy me lunch," the assistant said indignantly.
"Black people don't have any money," Stein retorted, according to Lowery. "Save your money and I'll buy you lunch."
An enraged Lowery grabbed the yoga stick from Stein and hit her with it a half-dozen times until she was face-down in a pool of blood, police said.
Ms. Lowery told the detectives that she used the pole-like stick (which another official said might be a Pilates stick) to hit Ms. Stein in the back of the head and neck, officials said. At five feet three inches, according to her driver’s license, Ms. Lowery would have been only slightly taller than the five-foot Ms. Stein.
NY Daily News
Authorities said Lowery had the presence of mind to tidy up the apartment after the slaying and leave with the murder weapon, which is still missing.
She also took Stein's phone, and even answered it, telling a caller the broker was too busy to talk, police said. She later returned the phone to the apartment, a source said.
Her trips in and out were captured on surveillance tape, which showed her nonchalantly carrying out a bag, police said. She checked the bottom of her shoes once after leaving, possibly examining them for blood, sources said.
The big break in the case came Thursday when Lowery out of the blue called Detective Kevin Walla, of Manhattan North Homicide, to complain about the reporters who had staked out her Williamsburg apartment building.
Walla and his partner on the case, Detective Antonio Rivera, met her at the Kellogg's Diner on Metropolitan Avenue in Brooklyn, where it became clear that Lowery was ripe for a confession. They took her back the station house on the Lower East Side.
"It evolved into something totally different, because we took her out of her atmosphere and brought her into our atmosphere," Walla said.
NY Daily News:
During the interroga-tion, which began Thursday night and ended at 6 a.m. yesterday, Lowery presented herself as a victim who snapped under abuse.
About four months ago, Lowery somehow connected with Stein through a temp agency.
Stein had fired her former assistant, Raul Diaz-Bernal, 49, who rebuffed her romantic advances while getting too chummy with her clients, her friends said. She then fired her personal assistant whom she accused of siding with Diaz-Bernal.
So, the petite and fashionable Lowery got the job and began working out of Stein's home.
NY Daily News:
The suspect's lawyer, Gilbert Parris, declared her "innocent" and blasted cops for ignoring his request that Lowery not be interviewed again without him.
Police sources said Lowery waived her Miranda rights and police allowed her to eat and sleep while she was held.
"She's innocent! My baby is innocent," Lowery's distraught mother shouted as police led her in handcuffs out of the downtown 7th Precinct station house in handcuffs.
"Don't say a word. God is with you, baby," she said.
NY Daily News:
Lowery's family charged cops targeted her because she's black and said Stein's daughters should be suspects.
"They know who did it," said one male relative.
"But whenever there's someone involved with power and influence black people get scapegoated."
"Tell them to check on the two daughters [Mandy Stein and Samantha Stein-Wells]. They have the means and the motive."
Walla said he broke the news of the arrest to Stein-Wells, who vowed at her mother's funeral last week to get justice.
"It was very emotional," Walla said. "We had to stay with her a while and it took a while for her to take it all in. This was a shock to her. ... It was a shock it was this person."
Personal assistants say they face unlimited tests in a job with no fixed job description… and… say that the relationship can be complicated and far more nuanced than what moviegoers saw in “The Devil Wears Prada,” the movie based on the best seller that was a thinly disguised portrait of Anna Wintour of Vogue magazine, or in “Swimming With Sharks,” in which one character was said to have been inspired by the agent Scott Rudin.
The demanding fashion editor in the book and film “The Devil Wears Prada” “was Snow White compared to Linda,” said Steven Gaines, the author of “The Sky’s the Limit,” a book about New York real estate, and a longtime friend of Ms. Stein’s.
“I bet you Linda had been bickering, fighting and saying nasty things to this girl all along,” he added. “Linda was very, very bad on her underlings. She was really, really bad.
“Linda talked out of the side of her mouth and opened up a really big, loud, dirty mouth,” he said.
Edward Hayes, a lawyer for Seymour Stein, Ms. Stein’s former husband, and their daughters, Samantha Stein-Wells and Mandy Stein, said he believed there must be more to the story than an argument over a lunch invitation. “That’s not a good reason to beat somebody to death,” he said, adding that in his long experience as a prosecutor, he never heard of a woman beating another woman to death.