New Questions Arise About Linda Stein MurderThe day real-estate agent Linda Stein was bludgeoned to death in her apartment, her assistant, Natavia Lowery, was seen leaving Stein’s building at 1:15 p.m. Prosecutors have led us to believe that Stein was killed around 12:45 that day, beaten with a yoga bar by her enraged assistant, who had been stealing money from her employer and who had a troubled past. But apparently a medical examiner’s report, given to the AP by the defense, states that Stein’s daughter, Samantha Wells, claims she spoke with her mother at 2 p.m. that day — a full 45 minutes after surveillance video has Lowery leaving the building. This raises a lot of questions, not least this one: Why is this news buried in a brief in the bottom right-hand corner of page 29 in the Post, underneath a long story and huge picture of cute Nicaraguan kids in donated Patriots jerseys?
A Time Warp in Stein Slay [NYP]
Related: New York’s coverage of Linda Stein.
Linda Stein Could Not Have Blown Pot Smoke in Natavia Lowery’s FaceAn autopsy on the body of real-estate broker Linda Stein, who was allegedly killed by her assistant Natavia Lowery at the end of October, has revealed that there was no marijuana in her system at the time of her death. This rips a hole in Lowery’s defense strategy, as she has claimed she was driven into a rage after Stein yelled at her and repeatedly blew marijuana smoke into her face. It was that incensed rage, Lowery said, that led her to shatter Stein’s skull with a yoga bar. But police sources told the Post that even a small amount of marijuana would have showed up in her system, and the toxicological tests on Stein’s body, completed last week, revealed nothing. (Lawyers for Lowery say that she “made things up to get out of the interrogation room,” including the marijuana-smoke story, and even the murder confession.) This is good news for prosecutors, who are trying to build up a narrative that Lowery had been using her boss’ credit cards and bank accounts and killed her when she was caught. But it raises the question: Why did it take over three months for toxicology reports to come in on her death and just ten days for Heath Ledger’s? Not that we’re surprised that his got rushed through after all the public scrutiny, but that’s an awfully big time difference. We fully expect an offensive Sean Delonas cartoon about this matter in “Page Six” tomorrow, most likely involving some bodyguards pushing around some wimpy gay forensic scientists, at the orders of a skeletal Mary-Kate Olsen.
Cameron Diaz to Invade ChelseaCameron Diaz is looking to buy an apartment in West Chelsea and also hooked up with Felicity’s Scott Speedman in the Bahamas. Samantha Stein-Wells, daughter of murdered real-estate broker Linda Stein, is turning her 35th birthday into a charity event in her mom’s name. Padma Lakshmi told Dave Zinczenko that she’d cover her body in chocolate if he put her on the cover of Men’s Health. Portfolio magazine named Newsweek fashion scribe Dana Thomas its European editor. Michelle Williams has pulled out of her upcoming movie with Ryan Gosling because she’s too beat up over Heath Ledger’s death. Maybe-pregnant Angelia Jolie went shopping at a baby boutique in Tribeca.
Linda Stein’s Assistant Looks Even More GuiltyIt’s been a while since we checked in with Natavia Lowry, the 26-year-old personal assistant accused of killing her employer, realtor Linda Stein. Despite the fact that her family says Lowery was an “angel” who did such saintlike things as founding a youth group for low-income teens and visiting retirement homes, police seem pretty sure that she was the one who beat Stein to death with a yoga stick back in October, and she’s been denied bail, despite the fact that she’s pregnant. Today, the Post reports that the entire time she was working for Stein, Lowery was withdrawing tens of thousands of dollars from ATMs using Stein’s account and funneling the cash to her boyfriend in Virginia Beach. Which kind of puts a hole in her “angel” rep, makes Lowery’s “a ninja did it” defense look even less likely, and makes you wonder what she was doing at those retirement homes after all.
She Made a Killing [NYP]
Related: Intel’s coverage of Linda Stein
Death of a Broker [NYM]
Natavia Lowery: Linda Stein Was Killed by Rogue NinjaAmong documents police released yesterday regarding their interviews with Linda Stein’s assistant, Natavia Lowery, was a handwritten note in which Lowery confessed that she hit her employer over the head “six or seven times” with a cane on October 31, the day Stein was discovered dead in a pool of blood. Which makes the fact that Lowery pleaded not guilty to the murder of Linda Stein yesterday kind of confusing. Still more confusing, however, is the otherstory that Lowery told the police, in which a masked man wearing all black burst into the apartment brandishing a hammer had attacked Stein, telling Lowery, “You’ll be the last one to see her alive.” Lowery’s lawyer, without explicitly saying he bought the masked-man story, claims his client (who is also seven weeks pregnant) is innocent; he says her confession was coerced. “She was locked in an interrogation room for 12 hours, deprived of her telephone and BlackBerry,” he told the AP. “She had to make something up to get out of that room.” Sooo why not just stick with the ninja story?
Details of Shifting Story Emerge in Fifth Avenue Death [NYT]
Related: Death of a Broker [NYM]
in other news
When Assistants Attack: Natavia Lowery After Linda Stein’s personal assistant, Natavia Lowery, confessed to the murder of her boss on Friday, a few new details emerged, among them that Stein had a pot habit to rival Jimmy Cayne’s. According to police, Lowery said it was Stein’s blowing marijuana smoke in her face, berating her for being slow, and making vague racial comments that prompted her to pick up a “yoga stick” and smack her in the head seven times. Stein’s daughter Mandy admitted her mother could be difficult but said that it was less the pot than the medication that caused her mother to behave churlishly. “If Miss Lowery had just walked out of the room and come back in fifteen minutes, my mother would have calmed down,” she said, adding that that’s what all the other help did. Right? This is New York City, don’t people know that abuse is just part of the job? But what caused Natavia Lowery to lose her mind? Is it possible she didn’t? Her father is saying her confession was coerced, and her friends and relatives maintain that despite the confession, she didn’t do it. “She does not have the heart to kill anyone,” Lowery’s high-school sweetheart told the Daily News. “She would not smack a fly on her forehead.” Um. Unfortunate metaphor, that. Lowery’s aunt concurred: “My niece doesn’t fight,” she said. “She is too afraid to break a nail or get a scratch on her face.” But Lowery was, after all, a would-be model, who “dreamed of gracing the covers of magazines,” according to the Daily News. Maybe this was one way to get her wish!
Last Disrespects [NYP]
Aide Confesses She Beat Linda Stein To Death With a Yoga Stick [NYDN]
Earlier:Intel’s Coverage of Linda Stein
Linda Stein’s Assistant Arrested, Said Realtor ‘Kept Yelling at Her’Linda Stein’s personal assistant, Natavia Lowry, 26, was arrested this morning for bludgeoning the Ramones manager turned real-estate developer in her Fifth Avenue apartment last week. Apparently Lowry, who was arrested for theft back in December and is also apparently a model, made statements implicating herself in the crime. “It was that Linda just kept yelling at her, over everything,” an official told the Times. “They fought. It was like a continuous thing, like a buildup.” For which, obviously, there’s a proportionate response, like throwing your cell phone into a fountain and striding off into your new wonderful life, but apparently Lowry missed The Devil Wears Prada. She’s being held at the station house on the Lower East Side.
Assistant Arrested in Killing of Real Estate Agent [NYT]
Earlier: Intel’s coverage of Linda Stein
Linda Stein’s Funeral Reveals Fondness, AngerHundreds turned out at the Riverside Memorial Chapel on the Upper West Side this afternoon for the funeral of murdered real-estate icon Linda Stein. Fellow brokers, longtime friends, and even celebrities like Trudie Styler and Brett Ratner showed up to pay their respects. There were so many attendees, the chapel had to open another room for overflow, though many chose to stand in the main chapel. While the funeral was in parts a celebration, Stein’s daughter, Samantha, didn’t let the gruesomeness of her death go unmentioned. She said the family would not rest until “the bastard” responsible for her death is found and justice is served. As friends voiced fond and complex remembrances, someone recounted one of Stein’s favorite quotes, which captured her aggressive outlook on life. It was Rosalind Russell’s famous line from Auntie Mame: “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.” —S. Jhoanna Robledo
Cops Begin Interviews in Linda Stein MysteryMurdered broker to the stars Linda Stein had made sets of keys for several friends and co-workers, including her former aide Raul Diaz Bernal. Police are hoping to speak to all of them as they investigate who might have accessed her apartment and bludgeoned Stein to death. They interviewed Bernal, 49, last night. He was fired by Stein a few months ago from the brokerage firm Prudential Douglas Elliman, reports the Post, after a fight over a commission. Her friends, who used to call Bernal “The Cuban,” say he was the only one of her close colleagues who didn’t call with condolences after her death. Cops also interviewed her 62-year-old former Italian lover, Francisco Arena, says the Daily News. They’re next hoping to track down Stein’s high-end pot dealers (she used the drug to help combat the pain from her bouts with cancer), who friends say regularly accessed the apartment. Since surveillance videos have turned up no leads yet, police hope these interviews will shed new light on the gruesome case.
Slay Sleuths Eye Axed Aide [NYP]
Ex-lover, pot dealer on list of people eyed in Linda Stein slay [NYDN]
Earlier: Remembering Linda Stein
Remembering Linda Stein
In September of 1991, Michael Gross profiled Linda Stein, the punk-rock manager turned real-estate agent who was found murdered in her apartment building Tuesday evening, for this magazine. “Diminutive, brassy, and caustic, Stein has a face as expressive as a truck driver’s mouth,” Gross wrote. “Everything about her is too much, from her too-high Manolo Blahnik heels to her too-short Gianni Versace skirts. Yet somehow, it works for her. ‘Her nerve is beyond anything,’ one longtime social observer says, laughing. ‘You can’t help but admire her.’”
Linda Stein, Realtor to the Stars, Has Been MurderedLinda Stein, the punk-music pioneer turned real-estate broker, was found murdered in her Fifth Avenue penthouse on Tuesday. According to the AP, the medical examiner says an autopsy found that she died from fatal blows to the head and neck. Stein was the original “broker to the stars,” helping turn the sale of fancy real estate in the city into the gossipy, publicity-driven soap opera that it has become today, where we all know, or think we know, which boldfaced name lives where, and how much they paid. A tempestuous, bawdy, funny woman who, through her marriage in to Sire Records founder Seymour Stein (the man who discovered and nurtured Madonna as well as the Talking Heads), transformed herself from a fifth-grade teacher in the Bronx to Ramones manager and international party girl (best friends with Elton John and Studio 54 regular). And then, after she and Stein divorced, she transformed herself again. Like many a divorcée, she got her real-estate license. But she had something else going for her. “I saw that there was money to be made,” she told New York Magazine when Michael Gross profiled her back in 1991. “My clients are my friends.” They included Bruce Willis, Billy Joel, Sting, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Calvin Klein, Joan Rivers, Sylvester Stallone, Jann Wenner and Rupert Everett.