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Central Park Beating Victim Identified As Talented Musician

June 7, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ The still-unconscious victim of a daylight beating near a Central Park playground was identified today as a talented pianist who played ``with her heart″ and dreamed of performing at Carnegie Hall.

However, the 32-year-old woman’s name was not released because she may have been sexually assaulted in the attack three days ago.

Friends described her as a ``cup-of-sugar type of neighbor″ and compared her to Marian the librarian in ``The Music Man.″

Two of the victim’s sisters and their husbands were at her hospital bedside, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said today. Her parents were vacationing and had not been located, he said.

She was in ``critical, life-threatening″ condition at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, Giuliani said.

No arrests had been made.

The woman was found Tuesday afternoon by Iris Fass as she walked in a well-trafficked section of the park, near a playground and yards from a busy avenue and the fashionable Upper West Side.

``I was screaming, `A woman is bleeding to death!′ But the people in the playground looked up and then went back to doing what they were doing,″ Fass said.

Police found no identification. Three people, described as neighbors and colleagues, called police to identify her from a police sketch, saying she live on West 57th Street.

Her identity was confirmed by comparing her fingerprints to those found in the apartment, Police Commissioner Howard Safir said.

The woman delighted neighbors when she played piano at home, said Dan Ranger, who said he lives next door. He likened her to Marian, the librarian in ``The Music Man,″ and said she was ``a nice, sweet girl.″

Acquaintances were incredulous of police reports that she was overheard arguing with her attacker.

``She wouldn’t harm a fly. She was such a small, fragile woman,″ said neighbor Dean Varvaris. ``She was a cup-of-sugar type of neighbor. If I ever needed anything, I could always go to her.″

``The one thing I know about her is that she would never provoke anything,″ Ranger said.

She gave piano lessons, used to work as an administrative assistant at the midtown showroom of Steinway & Sons, the piano maker, and dreamed of performing on stage at nearby Carnegie Hall.

``She plays with her heart, her soul,″ Steinway salesman Eddie Strouse said.

Another colleague at Steinway said also was an accomplished short-story writer. Rutgers University said she graduated in 1986 with honors in journalism.

``She was lovely and her writing was very romantic and poetic,″ Steinway’s Leo Spellman said. ``She had such a genteel nature.″

The attack brought back memories of two other vicious attacks on women in the park.

Last September, a jogger was slain in the park’s northern end. Her attacker was never found. That slaying happened not far from where another runner was raped and beaten by a teen-age gang in 1989. Both women were attacked in a more remote area of the park and at night.

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