The West Harlem woman who jumped to her death from her eighth-floor apartment window on March 13 while holding her baby was a pool court attorney with the state court system for almost 15 years. Cynthia Wachenheim, 44, did research and writing for various judges in Manhattan Supreme Court's Civil Term. She had been on maternity and childcare leave since May. Her 10-month-old son, Keston, was in critical but stable condition yesterday at Harlem Hospital Center.
Court attorney Michelle Kucsma, Wachenheim's office mate, said yesterday that her colleagues were "totally shocked" by the death of Wachenheim, who was due back at work in about a month. "It was completely out of the blue," said Kucsma. "She was one of the most friendly, laid-back, focused and helpful people you could ever meet." Justice Sherry Klein Heitler, one of the judges for whom Wachenheim worked, remembered her as a hardworking lawyer. "Everyone who met her respected her and appreciated all her hard work," said Heitler. "We will always treasure our memories of this truly warm, gracious and gifted colleague and friend."
Wachenheim, who earned her law degree from Columbia Law School and was admitted to the bar in 1996, also regularly volunteered for pro bono law clinics at the New York City Bar on Monday evenings and taught weekly English as a Second Language classes in her neighborhood, Kucsma said.
Police discovered a lengthy, handwritten note in the apartment Wachenheim shared with her husband, Hal Bacharach. She wrote that she knew what she was about to do was "evil," referred to postpartum depression and expressed concerns about her son's development.