Elizabeth Lisa Steinberg

Elizabeth Lisa Steinberg

Original Name Elizabeth Lisa Launders
Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Death 4 Nov 1987 (aged 6)
Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Burial Hawthorne, Westchester County, New York, USA
Plot Section 42, Plot 98
Memorial ID 2196 · View Source
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Murder Victim. She died of extreme child abuse and torture over several years at the hands of her adoptive father, Joel Barnet Steinberg. Both Joel and his live-in common law wife, Hedda Nussbaum, neglected the girl, and it was the subsequent death of Lisa that forced changes in how New York City officials handled both adoptions and child abuse reports. Lisa was born in Manhattan, New York, to Michele Launders, an unmarried college student, who gave her up for adoption. She was adopted shortly after her birth by Joel Steinberg and Hedda Nussbaum, who named her Elizabeth Steinberg (nickname Lisa). The adoption was never legal, in that Joel didn't bother to file papers. Joel was a criminal attorney in Manhattan, and Hedda was an editor and writer of children's books for Random House, the publishing company. In 1977, Hedda moved in with Joel, but they never officially married. Very quickly Joel began to beat his common-law wife, and in 1981, Random House fired Hedda due to her frequent work absences from being beaten. Police think that Lisa was being beaten as early as 1981, although the first call to authorities about a possible child beating occurred in 1983. On the morning of November 2, 1987, Hedda called 911 to report that her daughter was not breathing. Police and EMT responders found Lisa in a coma, and immediately transported her to St. Vincent's Children's Hospital. Lisa had cuts on both arms, legs, abdomen, stomach and head. Her body was covered in caked dirt and grime. Her hair was a matted filthy mess. Under her hair, doctor's discovered fresh bruises on her forehead and on her upper and lower back. Her brain had hemorrhaged and she had been left unconscious on the bathroom floor overnight, while Joel had gone out to party with friends. Lisa died three days later, without regaining consciousness. Doctors also examined Hedda, and discovered she had several broken ribs, a fractured jaw, a broken nose, and severely ulcerated legs, all injuries delivered over a period of several years. Police also discovered a second child, a 16 month-old baby boy, tied to a filthy playpen and covered with dirt and feces. Subsequent investigation by police indicated that the Steinbergs had been reported to Child Protective Services numerous times in 1983 and 1984, yet each time city social workers had determined that there was no evidence of child abuse. Just four weeks before Lisa's death, police had been called to their apartment on an anonymous telephone call to report a violent family argument, and despite seeing Hedda with several facial injuries, police left the couple alone. On January 30, 1989, Joel Steinberg was convicted of first-degree manslaughter, and sentenced to 8 to 25 years in prison. Hedda was not charged with any crime, and as of 2004, had become a counselor for battered women. In October 1999, Michele Launders, Lisa's birth mother, received $985,000 from the city of New York as compensation for her lawsuit against several New York agencies for their failure to protect her daughter.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 2196
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Elizabeth Lisa Steinberg (14 May 1981–4 Nov 1987), Find A Grave Memorial no. 2196, citing Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne, Westchester County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .