Work, racial slur allegedly sparked Stein murder

Nov.November 12, 2007 01:02 AM

Prudential Douglas Elliman broker-to-the-stars Linda Stein was killed in her Fifth Avenue apartment by her personal assistant after a confrontation over work demands, law enforcement sources said.

Police arrested Natavia Lowery today and the Manhattan district attorney’s office expects to charge her with murder this evening.

On October 30th, the assistant tried to negotiate with Stein about reducing the amount of extra work the broker gave her, sources said. The conversation then allegedly turned to Stein’s pot smoking habit, Lowery said, according to law enforcement sources. Stein, 62, allegedly asked Lowery, 26, to light her pipe and then kept blowing the smoke in Lowery’s face, despite her requests to stop.

Then the topic of lunch arose and Stein mentioned ordering food. Stein repeatedly prodded Lowery with a yoga stick, sources said.

Stein said she would pay for Lowery’s lunch, but Lowery insisted she could pay for it herself. Stein then allegedly asked how Lowery, an African-American, could afford lunch when people of her race lack money, Lowery said, according to law enforcement sources.

Lowery took the yoga stick and attacked Stein with it, police said. The medical examiner’s office said Stein’s death was due to blunt impact injuries to the head and neck.

Police found Stein lying face down in a pool of blood in her 18th-floor penthouse apartment at 965 Fifth Avenue, between 77th and 78th streets.

Lowery worked for Stein for only a few months after she was hired through a temp agency, a source said.

“She is hell on wheels and she treats menials poorly,” the source said about Stein. “It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

The Daily News reported that Lowery was arrested in Brooklyn in December on misdemeanor identity theft charges, which were later dropped.

Before Stein got into the real estate business, she co-managed the Ramones, the famous punk rock band. She and her husband of nine years, Seymour Stein, had two daughters, Mandy Stein and Samantha Stein Wells.

Long-time friend Hall Willkie, president of Brown Harris Stevens, painted a different picture of Stein, a breast cancer survivor.

“She was a very strong broker and a wonderful person,” Willkie said.

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