Why Herbert Weinstein Tossed Wife Out 12th Floor High-rise Window

Jonny Llama
  Published on November 30, 2021   

On January 7th, 1991, Herbert Weinstein, a 65-year-old advertising executive, strangled his wife and tossed her body out of their New York high-rise apartment. Weinstein had admitted to murdering his wife, Barbara Weinstein. He claimed that while strangling her he "knew what [he] was doing was wrong, but could not stop doing it." What was not known at the time was Herbert Weinstein's brain had developed a large cyst, which directly affected his decision making and impulse control.

Herbert Weinstein murder apartment building 72nd street

The “hubby” threw Barbara Weinstein from the 12th floor apartment 220 E. 72nd Street.


Herbert Weinstein loved Barbara, his second wife, and Barbara felt the same about him. However, after a trivial argument broke out, both Barbara and Herbert lost their tempers, and... well, you know.

It was around 1:30pm when Herbert had thrown Barbara's body from the apartment window. The sight of her body, "clad in a blue nightgown" falling from the building, must have had been sheer terrifying to see.

A Loving Couple

Neighbors who were acquainted with the Weinstein's were in utter shock about the details of the crime.

One neighbor said: "They were a fantastic couple. This was the second marriage for both. They were very even tempered...He was quiet. He looked refined. We went out to dinner together. I can't understand what must have gone through his head. I can't understand what made him do it."

Neighbors would later say that Barbara and Herbert Weinstein were a loving couple.

Neighbors would later say that Barbara and Herbert Weinstein were a loving couple.


Regarding Barabara, one neighbor lamented: "She's an extremely fine lady. We knew her socially. We had dinner with them occasionally. She and her husband seemed to get on fine."

Another neighbor reiterated Barbara was a "well-kept person. She was always put together. Her makeup and outfit were always just so."

The Perfect Father

Friends described Herbert as a "very calm man," who never lost his temper with his wife.

So, what would make this happily married man resort to such violence?

How could Herbert Weinstein brutally beat, strangle, and then toss the body of the person he most loved out of his window?

Joni West, Herbert's daughter and youngest child, explains in her book and memoir, Full Frontal Murder, how Herbert was the perfect father who lived by a strict standard of personal guidelines.

"You could not ask for a better father... hands down." - Joni West

Barbara was Herbert's second wife. The couple met through a social connection after Herbert's first wife, Belle, lost her long and agonizing battle with lung cancer.

Herbert Weinstein in happier times with his first wife Belle.

Herbert Weinstein in happier times with his first wife Belle.


During an interview with Joni West, she told me she had just graduated highschool when her mother passed away. The tragic event pushed her to derail her plans to study at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).

Joni had loved her mother Belle, but growing up, faced a challenging and emotionally abusive childhood under her mother's watchful eye.

Still, nothing could have prepared her mentally for the strong and domineering personality that Barbara, her new stepmother, would soon enforce.

"I really wanted to like Barbara, but just couldn't. I thought she was a self-centered bitch — a rich, Upper East Side snob; you know the type."

Joni West Tells All in her book, Full Frontal Murder Memoir

Joni West tells all in her book Full Frontal Murder Memoir. Amazon


Clashing Personalities

Joni and her stepmother clashed from the outset. In her memoir, she suggests that Barbara may have had a narcissistic personality disorder, which she believes led her to disregard the feelings of others and develop an increasing sense of entitlement.

She remembers her stepmother when they first met, belittling her, and purposely attempting to drive a wedge between Joni and her father.

In public, however, Barbara Weinstein would cast a well-manicured facade, comprising both opulence and compassion. But to Joni, and even to her own husband, a more tyrannical side would dominate behind closed doors.

Joni West and her stepmother Barbara Weinstein

Joni West and her stepmother Barbara Weinstein.


Sleeping Bomb

Herbert Weinstein hasn't lifted a hand in anger to anyone in the 56 years he's been alive.

Calm and collected, he lived nearly an entire lifetime, free from aggression, anger, and violence of any kind.

He would never talk badly of anyone, and treated everyone, especially the ones he loved dearly, with the utmost respect and dignity.

But on January 7th, 1991, standing in the bedroom of his luxurious 12th floor Upper East Side apartment, something inside snapped.

Herbert snapped.

Joni told me that Barbara was looking for a fight, and although it wasn't the first time, it would definitely be the last.

The game Barbara played was trivial argument, and she was damn good at playing.

Joni told me that Barbara had said something to the effect of Herbert's children reflecting badly on her, and after not getting a response that she had hoped for from her husband, Barbara went for the eyes.

Herbert stood in utter shock after his wife’s manicured red nails attempted to claw out his eyes.

Barbara tried again, this time nearly succeeding, and if it was a fight that she wanted, that is what she got.

Herbert punched his wife hard, and when she toppled to the floor, he was quickly on top of her, finishing what he had already started.

Barbara Weinstein was already dead (brutally beaten) when she was tossed out of her apartment window. Tossing her body was an afterthought for Herbert, hoping that police would consider her death accidental.

Brain Blame

Joni explains in her memoir that her father's personality has been changing, even before the murder. She says "he had this problem with empathy, which has never occurred to me before."

To Joni, and others who knew him so well, knew deep down that something was wrong with Herbert's brain.

After a closer inspection of his brain showed that Herbert has had developed an "orange-sized" cyst on his brain, primarily covering his frontal lobe.

Herbert Weinstein's brain shows an "orange-sized" arachnoid cyst.

Herbert Weinstein's brain shows an "orange-sized" arachnoid cyst.


WebMD classifies an Arachnoid cyst as the most common type. Most people are born with them, and most of the time don't have any symptoms.

However, Weinstein's cyst developed completely over his frontal lobe.

That his cyst was affecting his frontal lobe functions is very telling. Damages to the frontal lobes may be noticed by: the loss of movement, inability to plan, loss of spontaneity in interacting with others, mood fluctuations, difficulty controlling impulses, changes in personality, changes in social behaviour, reduced awareness, and reduced motivation.

The New York Times Magazine discusses Herbert's cyst and the legal implications it brought.

The New York Times Magazine discusses Herbert's cyst and the legal implications it brought.


Herbert Weinstein's brain scans was shown to the judge, who decided they could be used as evidence. This ruling also helped set the precedent for future cases using the "brain defense".

After taking a plea deal, Herbert Weinstein served 14 years in prison for the murder of his second wife, Barbara.

Herbert committed suicide 2 years after he was released to avoid going to a nursing home.

Listen to "282 | High-Rise Horror // Herbert Weinstein Tossed Wife From 12th Floor" on Spreaker.

Sources

Full Frontal Murder Memoir by Joni West (Amazon)

What are Arachnoid Cysts? (WebMD)

Brain Map Frontal Lobes (Queensland Health)

Wife tossed out window (Newsday 08 Jan, 1991)

End of ‘loving’ pair (Daily News 09 Jan 1991)

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Sources

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