Lisa Steinberg was a kid who never got a chance to survive because of the horrific incident that happened.
Following Lisa’s tragedy, New York City officials were obliged to modify how adoptions and child abuse cases.
Lisa’s real name was Elizabeth Lisa Launders. She was illegally adopted just a few days after her birth by Joel Steinberg, a 46-year-old criminal lawyer.
Joel Steinberg used to live with his 45-year-old partner, Hedda Nussbaum. The apartment they shared was in New York City’s Greenwich Village, the same building where Mark Twain previously resided.
Hedda, Joel’s partner, was a book editor and a writer of children’s books for Random House.
Mitchell, a 16-month-old boy, had also been unlawfully adopted by Joel and Hedda. This well-educated, upper-class couple with beautiful kids was concealing a sense of mystery that you’d soon understand.
Lisa Steinberg spent the next six years of her life in their increasingly gruesome and filthy Greenwich Village apartment, where Joel and Hedda lived out their sadomasochistic fetishes with little regard for the child’s well-being.
Lisa Steinberg’s Case
Lisa Steinberg, six years old, was knocked out when the cops showed up. It was November 2nd, 1987, when Hedda and Joel crossed every line and called the cops 12 hours after Lisa had been injured. Their daughter had choked on some food, they said.
The paramedics took Lisa to the St. Vincent’s Children’s Hospital, unconscious and covered with inexplicable bruises all over her 43-pound body. Hedda said she had fallen a lot recently on her roller skates to explain the several bruises and cuts on Lisa’s body.
Lisa was totally unconscious when the first rescuers arrived at the residence. Mitchell, a 16-month-old baby, tied to his cradle and laying in his own pee and excrement, was found alive and safe.
Four days later, Lisa Steinberg died, sparking a high-profile, globally broadcast criminal prosecution. While Joel went out to party with friends, Lisa was left unconscious on the bathroom floor overnight. Her death was judged to be the result of a head injury presumably caused by a rubber-headed hammer.
Lisa was totally unconscious when the first rescuers arrived at the residence. Mitchell, a 16-month-old baby tied to his cradle and laying in his own pee and excrement, was found alive and safe. He was later returned to his biological mother.
Reason Behind Hedda’s Silence
According to Nussbaum, Joel was going out for dinner and partying with friends on November 1st, and Lisa wanted to accompany him. Joel, on the other hand, refused to bring Lisa with him, and as a result, he struck her in the head.
Hedda said that she was waiting for Steinberg to get home because she felt he would be able to wake Lisa up after Lisa’s brain had been crushed. Hedda used cocaine with Joel after he returned to “relate better.”
Hedda had bruises on her body, indicating that she had been beaten. Hedda was also checked by doctors, who revealed she had numerous broken ribs, a shattered jaw, a fractured nose, and severely abscessed legs, all of which were sustained over a long period of time.
Why did Random House Dismiss Hedda
In the past, Random House dismissed Hedda in 1981 owing to her frequent absences from work due to being assaulted. Neighbours subsequently told authorities that they thought Nussbaum and Steinberg were involved in “some type of sexual sadomasochistic game.”
Friends attempted to help Nussbaum on occasion, but she turned down their offers of intervention or assistance and refused to accuse Steinberg.
Although the initial contact to authorities about a potential child beating happened in 1983, police believe Lisa was assaulted as early as 1981.
Hedda Nussbaum was first named a co-defendant, but it was subsequently determined that her years of abuse rendered her unable to assist Lisa when she was molested.
Charges of Child Abuse
The pair were detained on suspicion of child abuse. According to New York law, both parents are equally responsible if one parent abuses a kid while the other remains silent. Joel Steinberg, on the other hand, was ultimately revealed to have mistreated Hedda throughout their marriage.
Joel was found guilty of first-degree murder in Lisa’s homicide, and Hedda, who testified against him, became popular, with activists for abuse victims flocking to her defence. She became a witness, and her narrative of Lisa’s death is heartbreaking and terrible.
The Murder Conviction
On 30th January 1989, the jury refused to convict Steinberg of murder, instead opting for the lesser charge of manslaughter in the first degree. Joel Steinberg was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter and given the maximum punishment at the time: 8 and 1/3 to 25 years in jail.
Further Police Investigation
Following a police inquiry, it was discovered that the Steinbergs had been reported to Child Protective Services many times in 1983 and 1984, but that each time city social workers had found no proof of child abuse.
The residence was filthy, and significant amounts of cocaine and other narcotics and $25,000 in cash were found inside. Bloodstains were also discovered around the home, and the kitchen sink had been torn from the wall.
Police were also summoned to their apartment four weeks before Lisa’s death on an anonymous phone call to report a violent family dispute. Still, despite finding Hedda with multiple face bruises, police didn’t get involved.
Testimony of Hedda Nussbaum against Steinberg
Due to the idea that years of abuse left Hedda incapacitated at the time of the murder, Hedda was not punished in return for her Just testimony against Steinberg. She was instead sent to a mental health facility.
Ira London, the defence attorney, decided to depict Nussbaum as mentally ill. London inquired about the summer of 1983 when Nussbaum stated that she was experiencing emotional issues.
Steinberg, according to Nussbaum, had Lisa stay with friends on Long Island for three weeks while he recovered from a nervous breakdown. She opened up about the details when she was inquired by the defence attorney.
While changing Lisa’s diapers when she came back to the Greenwich Village apartment, Nussbaum observed “a black and blue mark” on her genitals, but she was clueless or maybe did not pay enough attention.
“Did you, as Lisa’s mother, take any action?” London had inquired.
Nussbaum replied, “No.”
“Why not?”, the question asked by London.
“I left it up to Joel’s wisdom,” she stated. Hedda continued, after a lengthy pause, “I wonder myself why I did not do anything about it. I don’t have the answer.”
All of the Jury members at the Court were confused and started to glimpse a picture of the perplexed lady hiding behind the damaged visage. Nussbaum has stated that she intended to raise her children in a lovely home.
Although she has also admitted to dabbling with drugs and idolising Steinberg at the expense of herself and her children. Hedda told, she was completely under the spell of her boyfriend Joel and used to believe in his absurd stories.
Nussbaum told London she had sought professional mental therapy. She later mentioned, “I was not a happy person.” Hedda used to snort cocaine and was involved in consuming drugs even before she met Steinberg.
But, what happened to Hedda Nussbaum after that?
Nussbaum claimed in her 2005 book “Surviving Intimate Terrorism” that her denials of the danger she and her children faced, was a type of battered person syndrome. Nussbaum said she had left the house six times before returning.
Nussbaum brings up the medical hypothesis that stress, particularly chronic trauma, might cause the body to generate opioids, which cause mental and bodily numbness.
Hedda also claims that her “numbness” hampered her power to think critically and behave appropriately, similar to “Stockholm syndrome,” a psychological condition in which victims empathise with their abusers.
In 2004, Hedda became a battered women’s counsellor. Lisa’s biological mother, Michele Launders, was awarded $985,000 by the city of New York in October 1999 as compensation for her case against numerous New York agencies for failing to safeguard her daughter.
How New York’s Law Changed Joel Steinberg’s Life
Steinberg was denied parole both times he appeared before the parole board. Joel Steinberg was paroled on June 30th, 2004 under New York State’s “good time” legislation.
He had always failed to demonstrate any remorse for killing Lisa, which is presumably why he was denied, released those two times.
Following Joel’s release, Steinberg relocated to Harlem and began working in the construction sector. He continues to deny any wrongdoing.
However, Hedda Nussbaum swore to leave New York State when Steinberg was released because she was so afraid of him. She faded from plain sight until her book was published a year and a half later.