Author Paul Auster’s son charged with fatal overdose of his granddaughter

A 10-month-old girl in Brooklyn has died of an overdose of fentanyl and heroin, and her 44-year-old father, Daniel Auster – son of famed novelist Paul Auster – has been charged in her death.

The girl, Ruby Auster, was found unconscious Nov. 1 at a house on Bergen Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and was pronounced dead at Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, police said. The medical examiner’s office later determined that she died of “acute drug intoxication”, police said.

Mr Auster, 44, was arraigned on Sunday for manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and endangering the welfare of a child, according to a criminal complaint filed in court. The judge set his bond at $100,000 cash or $250,000 bail and ordered him to return to court for a hearing on Thursday to determine if there was enough evidence for the case to proceed.

John Godfrey, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society who defended Mr Auster at the arraignment, said his client was recently sober and had been on a drug counseling program. Mr Auster, who works in landscaping, turned himself in to police, Mr Godfrey said.

“This case is painfully tragic and Mr. Auster remains devastated by the loss of his beloved daughter Ruby,” Mr. Godfrey said. “Substance use disorder is a problem that countless families fall victim to each year, and we warn the public to refrain from rushing to judgment and to respect family privacy during this difficult time. .”

Ruby’s mother, Zuzan Smith, Mr Auster’s wife, told police the baby was awake and appeared to be fine before he left for work that morning, according to the complaint.

Mr Auster told police he injected heroin after his wife left for work, then lay down for a nap with Ruby next to him in bed, the document says . When he woke up, the girl was “blue, lifeless and unresponsive”.

Mr. Auster said he administered Narcan, an anti-overdose drug, and attempted to revive the baby before calling 911, according to the complaint.

He was arrested last Friday after toxicology test results prompted the medical examiner to rule the girl’s death a homicide. The complaint does not specify how the baby ingested the drugs.

Outside the Bergen Street townhouse on Saturday, two neighbors said Mr Auster and his partner were friendly as they strolled with their baby. But one day in the fall, a jumble of baby items – clothes, books and toys – appeared on the sidewalk outside, and neighbors learned the baby had died.

The medical examiner’s office declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

In 1996, Daniel Auster played a minor role in a notorious nightlife murder case, in which club promoter Michael Alig and an accomplice killed and dismembered drug dealer Andrew Melendez, also known as ‘Angel, and dumped his body in the Hudson River.

Mr. Auster pleaded guilty in 1998 to possession of $3,000 that had been stolen from Mr. Melendez and was sentenced to probation. He was not involved in the murder.

A police spokesman has confirmed that the Daniel Auster charged in the death of Ruby Auster was arrested in 1998 for possession of stolen property and that the charges relate to a murder charge against Mr Alig.

Mr Alig died in 2020 of a heroin overdose.

Mr. Auster’s father, Paul Auster, is one of New York’s most famous novelists, the author of “City of Glass” and “4 3 2 1,” among many bestsellers. He declined to comment when reached by phone on Saturday.

In 2003, Daniel Auster’s stepmother, Siri Hustvedt, published a novel, “What I Loved”, in which a character is a drug addict and is eventually arrested in connection with the murder of a drug dealer. . In Paul Auster’s 2003 novel “Oracle Night”, the narrator is a writer whose son is a drug addict.

Lola R. McClure