Baby Falls Eight Stories: Why Did Cynthia Wachenheim Decide To Jump With Her Son?

By Jason Van Hoven on March 14, 2013 1:05 PM EDT

The Sutton
The Sutton is located on West 147th Street in Harlem. (Photo: aiany.com)

A baby fell eight stories from a Harlem apartment building with his mother while in her arms and strapped to a harness on Wednesday in what appeared to be an attempted suicide on the part of the mother, according to reports.

Cynthia Wachenheim, a 45-year-old an associate attorney for New York State Supreme Court doing legal research for judges for the last 15 years, was found on the street with her son, 10-month-old Keston, near her arms. Wachenheim was pronounced dead at the scene in front of The Sutton at West 147th Street around 3:30 p.m. ET while her son who survived was rushed to Harlem Hospital in critical but stable condition as DNAInfo notes.

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The New York Daily News reported that Wachenheim left what appeared to be a 13-page, handwritten suicide note on small pages of notebook paper under a bed in the apartment she shared with her husband, 48-year-old Hal Bacharach, who was at work when his wife jumped. In the note, Wachenheim said that she wasn't happy, suffering from postpartum depression, and that she was a failing mother.

"I love you," said Wachenheim in the note, according to a source. "I'm making you suffer. You're going to think I'm evil."

Wachenheim was also concerned about how her son was developing, police believing that she was convinced Keston has cerebral palsy, although doctors said nothing was wrong with him.

Anti-depressant pills were also found in the apartment.

When police arrived to the scene, a window with no safety bars to Wachenheim's West Harlem apartment was wide open. Police also said that there were no signs of struggle inside.

Surveillance footage of The Sutton showed that Wachenheim's husband left the apartment at 12:55 p.m. ET, storming out of the two-bedroom condo after a loud, shouting argument.

Area resident Steven Dominguez, 18, was walking to a grocery store along Bradhurst Avenue with his mother, Adelina Dominguez, 45, when he saw the Wachenheim fall. He said the baby bounced off her body, breaking some of the impact of the fall, before he hit the ground nearby and started crying face down.

"I heard a small scream when she was in the air, and then I heard a nasty bang," said Dominguez. "It sounded like a big piece of wood hitting the ground."

Dominguez also said that his mother went to pick up the baby in order to comfort it but an emergency response person told her to stay back.

Wachenheim, who was on maternity leave when the incident happened, went to law school at Columbia University.

"She was wonderful -- very devoted to the court [and] wonderful with everyone she worked with," said her boss, John Werner, chief court clerk. "It's a tragedy."

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