Elizabeth "Lisa" Launders Steinberg
May 14, 1981 - November 4, 1987
Find A Grave Memorial

In New York City, on May 14, 1981 a baby girl was born by the name of Elizabeth Lisa Launders.  By November of the year 1987, the entire would come to know her as "Lisa Steinberg". Following her birth, Lisa's mother paid Joel Steinberg $500. to find an adoptive home for her.  A home was never found and although he never adopted Lisa himself, she did live with Joel and his live in girlfriend, for the rest of what would be her very short, sad life.

On November 1, 1987, Joel Steinberg delivered several blows to Lisa's head and then he and Hedda Nussbaum waited over 12 hours to call for help. Lisa did not die that day, she died three days later from severe brain injuries. He left the house and Hedda called  no one thinking that he could help Lisa by laying his hands on her, when he returned.  When Hedda later found Lisa was no longer breathing, Joel STILL didn't want to call for help, but eventually did. Lisa was in a coma for three days before she finally died.


Lisa is pictured above with her baby brother who was found in a back room, laying on the floor, tied to his crib with a short length of rope, dressed in filthy clothing.

Lisa's birth mother, who was still Lisa's LEGAL guardian at the time since she had never been adopted by Joel and Hedda, was given legal rights to Lisa's estate and later sued. Joel Steinberg was convicted of first- degree manslaughter in 1989. Hedda had been abused by Joel for years and was beaten by him just before he delivered the blows that killed Lisa, therefore, she was not able to help Lisa. Hedda was not prosecuted since she had been found unable to help Lisa and was not involved in her abuse other than not reporting it.

Hedda has been involved in a campaign to stop Joel from ever being paroled and his next parole hearing is set for January of 2004. Joel has been up for parole several times and has each time been denied. To this day he refuses to accept responsibility for he did to Lisa Launders.

Child welfare workers, Police officers and even a teacher who had seen the evidence of abuse on Lisa's body, failed to report this or do anything about it. So we have another case of a child who could have been saved if someone had only been willing to help her.

Hedda has moved on, writing a book and staying as far away from  Joel as she possibly can.

Update:

In October of 2007, Joel petitioned the court to throw out a lawsuit that had been filed by Michelle Launders, Lisa's biological mother. Joel was ordered to pay $15 million dollars in damages for what he did to Lisa.  Joel's reasoning behind this was that Lisa had only been through, at the most, eight hours of pain and suffering. What kind of monster thinks it okay to torture and murder a child, as long as he doesn't cause her to suffer for more than eight hours?

Wanting to avoid the media, Joel submitted his request in writing rather than appear in person. He sighted the quality of the legal briefs he had written and the fact that medical reports showed that Lisa didn't have any really serious injures, as reasons he thought he had a good chance of getting the judgment thrown out. Joel even had a plan for if he loses:

 "I'll continue to labor and live in poverty. I'll have my salary garnished at 10%. But maybe I'll go to 
another court"

Wayne Schaefer, who is the lawyer for Michelle said the following:

"It's obvious, even at this late point, that Joel Steinberg still is not taking any responsibility"

In January of 2007, an Appellate Division panel said that Joel was as devoid of empathy and human emotion now, as he was the night he had killed Lisa. They ruled the judgment would stay. However, because two of the five judges thought he should not have to pay for past abuse of Lisa, he was able to take his case to Albany.

Update:

Joel Steinberg was released from prison June 30, 2004, after being behind bars for ONLY 15 years.

Update:

After having been denied parole in 1996, twice in 2000 and once 2002, once again Joel Steinberg was denied parole on January 15, 2004. The three member panel that interviewed Joel Said:

"We find quite compelling your inexplicable disregard for your victim,
that little girl, that evening," 

I personally wish he would NEVER get out, however, his release date is set for June after he serves only two thirds of his sentence. A television company, who will NEVER be named on my site, has offered him a job based on the fact that he has been in prison. Isn't it wonderful, he kills a little girl, goes to prison, and when he gets out, he will have a television show which is his because he has been to prison. I find this to be repulsive!

UPDATE: October 2, 2004

After receiving so many requests for the name of the television station which will employ this murderer, I have decided to put it up:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2004-06-15-steinberg-usat_x.htm

From prison to cable TV 

During the years that he was inmate No. 89A2941, Steinberg was disciplined a handful of times for such infractions as violating a smoking policy and refusing a direct order, says Linda Foglia, spokeswoman for New York's State Department of Correctional Services. He studied drafting and handicrafts and was a porter in the gym, she said. And since May 1991, the disbarred attorney has been assigned to the prison's law library, where he is a paralegal assistant.

After he's released, Steinberg will earn $250 a week as an intern for New York Confidential, a tabloid-style cable show that has the infamous report on the scandalous. "We're interested in a lot of different people, scandalous people ... who can do stories and have a totally different view on everything," show spokesman James Edstrom says. "There's no guarantee that he will work out. He'll start as an intern, and if he can handle it, he may end up being a reporter along with other people." 

Edstrom says the program is also interested in getting Bernhard Goetz on the show. Goetz became a symbol of vigilantism in 1984, after he shot four young men he thought were going to rob him on a New York subway. Goetz was sentenced to a year in jail for possessing an unlicensed gun.

At least part of Steinberg's wages may go to pay for his crime. Launders, Lisa's biological mother, was awarded $15 million in damages in September 2003 from a civil lawsuit she originally filed against Steinberg, Nussbaum and various city agencies. The city settled without admitting any wrong doing in 1999 and paid $985,000.

"The last information we had was he was going to work as some kind of a TV journalist,"
says Schaefer, Launders' lawyer. "We'll be monitoring that situation, and to the effect we can
 take garnishment, we, of course, will."

UPDATE:

Joel Steinberg wants $15M damage award thrown out Wednesday, September 05, 2007,


Joel Steinberg, whose horrific murder of his daughter stunned the city 20 years ago, is still a cold-hearted monster.

The disbarred-lawyer-turned-laborer wants the state's highest court to toss the $15 million in damages he has been ordered to pay for the beating death of 6-year-old Lisa in 1987.

His twisted argument is that the tortured girl - whom he illegally adopted - only endured, "at most, eight hours of pain and suffering."

Although Lisa was found bruised and battered, Steinberg, 66, contends he was hammered too hard in 2004, when Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Louis York ordered him to pay the money to Michele Launders, Lisa Steinberg's biological mother, who sued as executor of her daughter's estate.


UPDATE

$15M JUDGMENT AGAINST JOEL STEINBERG, STANDS

In the late 1980's, Joel Steinberg, a "convicted child killer and abuser," was involved in a horrific criminal case which is still ingrained in the minds of many.

On November 4, 1987, six-year-old Lisa Steinberg was killed by a "staggering" blow to her head.* And, Mr. Steinberg, her father, was later convicted of manslaughter in the first degree.

In a civil lawsuit commenced by the administratrix of Lisa's estate, Joel Steinberg, Hedda Nussbaum ("his live-in girlfriend"), and various City employees and agencies were sued on several grounds, including negligence.

The administratrix, Michele Launders, was later awarded $15 million dollars as against Mr. Steinberg, who appealed the judgment alleging that it was, among other things, "excessive."

In a decision released yesterday, January 16, 2007, the Appellate Division, First Department, by a 3-2 margin, upheld the award.  Clearly, the majority was repulsed by Steinberg's conduct and the insensitive statements contained in his submissions to the court.  As the AD noted in its decision:

Steinberg's assertions are entirely without merit. First, for Steinberg to dismiss the eight to ten hours preceding Lisa's death as "at most eight hours of pain and suffering" or as he alternatively states, a "quick loss of consciousness" demonstrates that he is as devoid of any empathy or human emotion now as he was almost 20 years ago when he stood trial for Lisa's homicide. As any parent and, no doubt, most adults who have taken trips with young children can attest, the oft-heard question, "are we there yet?" is a clear illustration that, the more anticipated an event or destination so, seemingly slower the passage of time in a child's mind. For Lisa, lying on a bathroom floor, her body aching from bruises of "varying ages," her brain swelling from her father's "staggering blow," those eight to ten hours so cavalierly dismissed by Steinberg must have seemed like eternity as she waited and wondered when someone would come to comfort her and help make the pain go away.

The court concluded that the unprecedented nature of the case justified the sums awarded.  In particular, the AD found no reason to reverse the punitive-damage component, finding it neither "excessive" nor inappropriate under the circumstances:

In urging this Court to affirm the punitive damages, the plaintiff appropriately describes Steinberg's conduct as a heinous and inexcusable assault upon a defenseless child. The plaintiff states: "[T]he cavalier disregard of Lisa's welfare evidenced by [Steinberg's] failure to summon aid is exceeded only by the sadistic mechanism he employed to bring about the need for medical treatment in the first place." The heinous nature of Steinberg's intentional and deliberate abuse and manslaughter of a defenseless little girl earned him the cognomen "monster" almost 20 years ago. Now, the revisitation of the horror that was Lisa Steinberg's life continues to elicit a palpable sense of outrage. We therefore affirm the award for punitive damages.

Death occurred in the state of New York

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