Volume 74, Number 25 | Octuber 20 - 26 , 2004

Woman in Jane St. assault leaps to death

By Lincoln Anderson

Barbara Zellman, 62, who in April viciously attacked her 61 Jane St. neighbor Miriam Sarzin, 67, with a hammer and Skyy vodka bottle, took her life on Thurs., Oct. 14. According to Ellen Borakove, a spokesperson for the Medical Examiner’s Office, Zellman “jumped from a height” at 160 West End Ave., near W. 70th St. in Lincoln Towers on the Upper West Side, dying of “multiple, blunt-impact injuries.”

Last Friday, Sarzin sent an e-mail to friends informing them of Zellman’s suicide. “It is, of course, a very great relief that the nightmare is over, that I will never again have to fear her return,” Sarzin wrote.

On April 14, Zellman, a psychologist and former public school teacher suffering from multiple sclerosis and depression, made a date to see Sarzin, a copyeditor and treasurer of the Jane Street Association. Zellman went up from her fourth-floor apartment to Sarzin’s 19th-floor apartment, where after some conversation she assaulted her with the bottle and claw end of a hammer while straddling her and telling her she would kill her. Jane Klein, a neighbor heard Sarzin’s cries and with a doorman and maintenance man, came to the rescue, at which Zellman jumped out a window only to land on a balcony two stories down.

Sarzin recovered from her injuries at St. Vincent’s and Zellman was held for a month in a Queens psychiatric facility after which she had been out on bail, though barred from 61 Jane St. by an order of protection. She faced criminal charges and up to 25 years in jail. Her attorney, Michael Dowd, felt she had a “strong case” to get off by arguing her actions were caused by mental illness. Sarzin also filed a civil lawsuit against Zellman.

Both women were longtime tenants of 61 Jane St., a 261-apartment building put up in 1964. Both were described as having prickly personalities, but Zellman was known to have an explosive temper.

Dowd said he had spoken to Zellman just the day before she died. “She was filled with remorse and couldn’t believe she did it,” he said, referring to her assault on Sarzin. He said Zellman had retired following the incident. As to whether the civil case would now be dropped, Dowd declined comment. Zellman is survived by her partner, Sandy Leaderman. Dowd would not say if Zellman leaves other survivors.

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