Kendra's Story: Her Killer Speaks For The First Time

2:32 PM, Feb 1, 2013   |    comments
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FREDONIA, N.Y. - Fourteen years ago, through one of those awful happenstances of fate, Kendra Webdale was waiting for a subway train on the platform of the 23rd street station in Manhattan, she was heading home to her apartment in Brooklyn.

At that exact same time, Andrew Goldstein a schizophrenic who had stopped taking his medication and had a history of violence was also at the 23rd street station, he was waiting for that exact same train.

What happened at just after five o'clock that afternoon would forever horribly scar two families and result in Kendra's Law, which allows courts to order out-patient treatment for the seriously mentally ill who have a history of violence and have stopped taking their medication.

Kendra's mother Pat was instrumental in getting the law passed by the state, and in the years since her daughter's death, Pat Webdale has worked tirelessly on behalf of the mentally ill and their families.

Scott Brown: "I think people hearing that you've become such an advocate for the mentally ill would surprise people?"

Pat Webdale: "I think of that Joni Mitchell song, 'Both Sides Now' and my kids used to sing it and I think of the words of that, 'bows and flows and angel hair' and I think that's Kendra, and then the other side of it is the families that call and they say 'this is awful I've been trying to get help for years and my child did this, I have to hide my grandchildren in the closet' and so it's like the two sides, and you just become involved because it's like humanity."

Ralph Webdale, Kendra's father: "I think we've always thought there's more than one victim here. The victim here is Kendra certainly in our case, but the family of Goldstein, but then of Goldstein himself. He was a victim of the mental health system in New York state- they did not take care of him adequately."

Studies have shown that Kendra's Law has reduced assaults against the public and reduced hospitalizations and arrests of the mentally ill.

Scott Brown: "Is it important to you that the law carries Kendra's name?"

Pat Webdale: "Absolutely, absolutely. You get the big white book and it's the report to the governor and in big blue letters it says Kendra's Law, yes, I love it, I do, very honestly."

Despite all of its success, in December almost exactly 14 years after Kendra's death, within a span of a few weeks two people were pushed to their deaths in the subway in New York City by two mentally ill people.

Kendra's Law is dependent on the police, the mental health community, and the families of the mentally ill to identify people who are in need of the help that Kendra's Law provides.

Scott Brown: "When you hear about these incidents in New York City, does it bring back these horrible memories for you?"

Pat Webdale: "Yes they do. When I heard about the new subway pushes, all I could think about was Kendra in the place of that other person. So yes you could say it does take me right back to the scene of the crime. Every time we hear of a tragedy, we feel terribly sad for families, the victim and compassion for the person that was not helped. We also feel like it's the system that's at fault for so many years. And it's not like these tragedies were brand new tragedies because I can tell you there have been tragedies for 14 straight years.

And in those 14 years, what has happened to Andrew Goldstein, the man who caused Kendra's death and the Webdale family's anguish?

After two trials, Andrew Goldstein entered into a plea deal where he pled guilty to manslaughter for Kendra's death and was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

Goldstein has spent much of his time in prison at the Sullivan Correctional Facility, it's a maximum security prison about 90 miles north of New York city and it's there where we went to speak with him.

Goldstein is now 43 years old, he is still mentally ill, he receives anti-psychotic medicine and lives in a mental health unit at the prison.

We found Goldstein to be both rambling and remorseful.

This is the first time Goldstein has spoken on TV about what happened.

Scott Brown: "At the time you pushed Kendra what was your mental state?"

Andrew Goldstein: "I was just out of the hospital, North General Hospital, about two weeks prior, I was hearing voices and I was living in paranoia. I would miss one or two clinic appointments and I wouldn't take my meds for a week or two.

"(That afternoon) I was walking down, waiting for the train to come and as I was starting to go down the path I started getting this aura, or this bad knowing. Then I'm behind Kendra, not right next to her but far behind her, I'm walking behind her and I just get this fit I can't control the urge to shove or to push. I remember on her shoulders, the push, and also seeing a shimmying or almost like a specter like an Aurora Borealis, you know Northern Lights. I don't know how to describe it, just a horrible event."

Scott Brown: "You felt as if somebody was controlling your body?"

Andrew Goldstein: "Yes, yes, yes that's how I describe it directly, yes. I mean, that might be part of the illness, I don't know I don't think so."

Scott Brown: "At the time, did you realize what you had done had caused her death?"

Andrew Goldstein: "Yes, well first of all I realized it had happened. I threw my hands up and said I don't know and then I walked back from that night, kneeled down and I walked back up to the wall from the platform and I said I had a psychotic attack, please take me to the hospital I killed a woman."

Scott Brown: "Do you feel you're responsible for Kendra's death?"

Andrew Goldstein: "Every time someone asks that I find myself in a conundrum where I was guilty or not. I don't know. I know physically I was the pusher, I don't want to be manipulative. I was mentally ill and I was irresponsible about my medication. That's such a hard question I know you want to get a good answer, I don't know."

Scott Brown: "Let me ask it another way. Do you regret what happened?"

Andrew Goldstein: "Oh definitely, definitely, that I can answer you. It should never have happened. That I regret, so if I could change time, like they say, if I could change time, I could go back to the past and do it all over again, I would never, ever have this happen again to Kendra."

Scott Brown: "If you had the ability to speak directly to Kendra's parents, what would you say to them?"

Andrew Goldstein: "I would say please, please forgive me. I would say you don't have to forgive me and you can hate me forever. I don't know how I can make up for the loss of Kendra or how I could make up for your daughter's death, even if you want to punch me or beat me up or put me on a cross or put me in jail or do something horrible."

Scott Brown: "Once you get out of here, what's to stop you from doing something like that again?"

Andrew Goldstein: "I've learned never ever ever to have this happen again. How would you prevent it? Well because of being in prison, going through counseling. If I have to take a train, I would walk all the way in the corner and say when that train comes with all of my mind, just crawl in that door so that would never, ever happen again (laughs)."

After speaking with Goldstein, we asked the Webdales if they wanted to hear what he said. They said they did.

Even though they had sat through both of Goldstein's trials, and heard his videotaped interrogation by police Kendra's parents were transfixed by what Goldstein said to us.

Scott Brown: "What's your reaction after seeing and hearing him?"

Pat Webdale: "Wow, I'm overwhelmed. It's a person with a mental illness looking at you and telling you what his mental illness is all about, sad, sad."

Scott Brown: "When you heard him expressing regret, did that..."

Pat Webdale: "Yes I felt very, I felt his pain, I could say that, I felt his pain."

Ralph Webdale: "I felt he more rambled, I didn't get that same impression that he was as sincere or knew what was happening. And I think anyways, I would have a very tough time forgiving something like that, he took something very valuable to our family away and I'd have a tough time to accept that apology."

Scott Brown: "After watching and listening to this does it answer any questions for you?"

Pat Webdale: "Yes, sitting here watching Andrew Goldstein tell the story of 23rd street, there's more information then I've had before, yes. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? It's a good thing for me. For me personally yes it's a good thing. I thank you for doing that."

Now believe it or not, after receiving credit for good time Goldstein is scheduled to be released from prison in about five and a half years. He would then be on strict parole for about nine years after that - if he were to stop taking his medication or not go to counseling - as he did in the weeks before he killed Kendra - Goldstein would have his parole revoked.

Under the strengthened version of Kendra's Law, where ever Goldstein goes once he's released from prison, mental health officials in that particular county would have to be notified.

Pat Webdale: "It shows me for sure there's a need and we have done something good in Kendra's name."

Scott Brown: "This may be a difficult question, do you feel sorry for him after hearing him?"

Pat Webdale: "That's who I am, yes, I do. I have to say, I feel sorry for anybody that suffers. So people who end up with schizophrenia and bi-polar, it's not like it's anything they asked for. So of course you feel sad for people."

Ralph Webdale: "I'm not so sure about the sincerity of the remorse, I didn't think that was real sincere and I'm not so sure he's got the capability to do that."

Pat Webdale: "Ralph is loyal to Kendra."

Ralph Webdale: "I miss Kendra."

Pat Webdale: "I miss her too." 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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