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Police: Manhattan Mom Was Reporting Son’s Seizure When Attacked

Accused Teenager Appears In Court; Colleagues Stunned By Teacher's Killing
Karyn Kay

Karyn Kay (credit: Personal Photo)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A teenager accused of killing his own mother in their Manhattan high-rise faced a judge Wednesday.

Henry Wachtel seemed agitated as he heard the charge against him: Second-degree murder.

“Mr. Wachtel is an epileptic, takes medication and sometimes there are unforeseen consequences with medication,” attorney Lloyd Epstein said.

Karyn Kay’s screams were heard by neighbors and a 911 operator as the 63-year-old was attacked by her 19-year-old son on Tuesday, police said. She had initially called to report that her son was having a seizure.

1010 WINS’ John Montone reports

When police arrived at the 10th floor apartment on West 55th Street, they said Kay was lying on the floor with severe head trauma. She was taken to the hospital where she later died.

In court, the prosecutor quoted the 911 call that featured the victim saying: “He’s coming after me. No, no, no.” The call also revealed there was screaming and wails from the victim and screaming and wails from the defendant, followed by “Mommy, mommy, please don’t die.”

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports

Then, neighbors said they could hear the son inside the apartment.

“He was in the background saying, ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.  I love you,'” one person said.

Several hours later, Wachtel was arrested and charged with his mother’s murder.

“What can you say? Disturbed youth who had it in for his mother,” neighbor Harvey Klinger told CBS 2’s John Slattery on Wednesday.

“It’s disturbing for lack of a better word,” added neighbor Eric Ford.

Wachtel’s father, Edward Wachtel, who was in court, said nothing as he left, except, “no comment.”

Kay was a filmmaker and an English teacher at Manhattan’s LaGuardia High School since 1983. On Wednesday morning, staff members and students at the school were stunned.

“Wow. Just an extreme sort of emotion that it would ever have happened,” drama teacher Clay Smith told CBS 2’s Ann Mercogliano. “Horrifying. Horrible.”

“The kids are quite upset,” said Barbara Engel, executive director of LaGuardia High School’s alumni association. “Everybody’s kind of in shock.”

Faculty members at the school said Kay was a jack-of-all-trades. In addition to teaching English, she was the adviser on a student magazine.

Kay was also an accomplished filmmaker, credited on the Internet Movie Database with writing and producing the 1988 film “Call Me” starring Steve Buscemi. Henry Wachtel, himself, was in a short film called “Our Time,” CBS 2’s Slattery reported.

Engel said she didn’t know of Kay’s relationship with her son, but did know of her relationship with her students.

“She was a lovely, lovely person,” she said. “Loved by the staff and the kids.”

Henry Wachtel’s lawyer said the college freshman expressed remorse for the death of his mother.

“He was upset about his mother. He was upset about his mother dying,” Epstein said.

Sources told Slattery that there were no previously reported domestic problems in the home and that Henry Wachtel had no prior arrests.

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