Crime History, Jan. 3, 1999: Schizophrenic man shoves woman under subway train

On this day, Jan. 3, in 1999, a schizophrenic man who had stopped taking his medications shoved an aspiring screenwriter to her death in front of a subway train in New York City.

Kendra Webdale

Kendra Webdale

The killing shocked New Yorkers, who had come to feel safer as crime in their subway system had declined significantly since the 1970s and 80s.

Andrew Goldstein, 29, who had released from a psychiatric hospital just weeks earlier, randomly approached 32-year-old Kendra Webdale at a station in midtown. He waited for the train to enter the station then shoved the 5-foot-4, 130-pound Webdale on to the tracks.

In a significant defense cases, lawyers argued that the 32-year-old Webdale died because the state’s mental health system failed Goldstein. The case ultimately led to the passage of Kendra’s Law,  a New York state law allowing more supervision of mentally ill people living outside institutions.

Goldstein was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 23 years.

— Scott McCabe



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