Inside Membership Child life and tragic loss of life of Daniel Auster

Simply hours after he obtained bailed out of Rikers April 20 after being charged within the loss of life of his child daughter, Daniel Auster, the long-troubled son of novelist Paul Auster, was discovered unconscious on a subway platform in Brooklyn.

Police noticed Daniel, 44, mendacity on the northbound platform of the G prepare within the Washington/Clinton Avenue station. Medicine and drug paraphernalia have been discovered on him, they mentioned.

On Tuesday, Daniel was reportedly taken off life help. The reason for loss of life was the identical as what killed his 10-month-old toddler, Ruby, final fall, sources mentioned: an unintentional drug overdose.

Daniel’s loss of life was the ultimate unhappy act in a darkish life marked by power drug abuse and bookended by two tragic drug-related deaths — the final one 26 years in the past.

On April 15, Daniel was arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent murder and endangering the welfare of Ruby. In November, he’d instructed police he’d injected himself with heroin and brought a nap, solely to wake and discover his daughter unconscious and unresponsive. An post-mortem later concluded that the child died of an overdose of fentanyl and heroin. Police nonetheless don’t know the way Ruby ingested the medicine though Daniel admitted he had glassine packets of heroin within the house, prosecutors mentioned in courtroom.

In March 1996, Daniel was 18 and contained in the Hell’s Kitchen house when notorious New York get together promoter Michael Alig, then 31, and Robert “Freeze” Riggs, 28, murdered drug supplier Andre “Angel” Melendez. The homicide was as soon as described as a “catfight” over a drug debt gone horribly incorrect.

Daniel was 18 in March 1996 when he was in the Hell's Kitchen apartment where infamous New York party promoter Michael Alig (left), then 31, and Robert "Freeze" Riggs (right), 28, murdered drug dealer Andre "Angel" Melendez.
Daniel was 18 in March 1996 when he was within the Hell’s Kitchen house the place notorious New York get together promoter Michael Alig (left), then 31, and Robert “Freeze” Riggs (proper), 28, murdered drug supplier Andre “Angel” Melendez.
Getty Photos

Daniel’s position within the grisly slaying at Condominium 3K on the Riverbank West complicated, nonetheless, has at all times been shrouded in thriller and little-known to the general public.

Daniel and Alig, who grew to become generally known as the “Membership Child Killer,” had been lovers for a time earlier than the Melendez homicide, in response to one in every of Alig’s former Membership Child associates, James St. James.

“Daniel and Michael have been a match made in hell,” St. James mentioned. “They introduced out the worst in one another, particularly when it got here to medicine. They have been doing ecstasy and free-basing cocaine and there was lots of GHB and ketamine round.”

Baby Ruby died from an overdose of fentanyl and heroin. Her father Daniel later admitted he had packets of heroin in their Park Slope, Brooklyn, apartment.
Child Ruby died from an overdose of fentanyl and heroin. Her father Daniel later admitted he had packets of heroin of their Park Slope, Brooklyn, house.

St. James chronicled Alig’s rise and fall as “King of the Membership Youngsters” in his guide, “Disco Massacre,” which was the idea for the 2003 movie “Social gathering Monster,” starring Macaulay Culkin.

Ten days after the homicide, with the corpse decomposing within the bathtub, Alig chopped up Melendez’s physique and he and Riggs threw the torso in an Amana TV field into the Hudson River. The 2 have been arrested in December 1996, sentenced to 10 to twenty years in jail, and finally launched. Alig died of a heroin overdose on Christmas Eve 2020.

In 1998, a yr after Alig and Riggs have been despatched to jail, Daniel pleaded responsible to possessing $3,000 that had been stolen from Melendez’s corpse, with out being interviewed by NYPD detectives investigating the homicide. Daniel’s father Paul reportedly had some connection to the Manhattan DA that led to a gathering the place his son gave data on the killing, which can have helped him keep away from extra severe prices.

Riggs instructed the choose at his sentencing that, “What I’m sure is that each one of us concerned, myself, Michael Alig, Daniel Auster and Angel Melendez, are victims of the identical hideous evil, whose identify is medicine.”

Daniel (left, with his novelist father) reportedly started doing drugs as a teenager.
Daniel (left, together with his novelist father) reportedly began doing medicine as a teen.

On the time the homicide case was being prosecuted, nobody had publicly mentioned Daniel had a job within the killing. (Riggs’ hand-written confession after his arrest didn’t point out Daniel. Riggs was not reachable for remark.) However in a Submit interview in 2014, Alig recounted the chaos and combating within the house main as much as the homicide of Melendez.

“Every part was in a state of disarray,” Alig mentioned. “There was a hammer on the desk and [Riggs] reached for the hammer and hit [Melendez] with the picket deal with. [Melendez] fell again and there was me and Daniel Auster and Riggs all piled on Angel. Angel was nonetheless making an attempt to chew me and I wrapped a sweatshirt round my hand … and I smashed into his face to attempt to push him down. I both did it for too lengthy or had extra energy than I noticed or possibly it was a mixture of us sitting on high of him and he couldn’t breathe or no matter it was, he simply stopped writhing.”

Daniel Auster was arrested earlier this month in connection with the drug-fueled death of his 10-month-old daughter.
Daniel Auster was arrested earlier this month in reference to the drug-fueled loss of life of his 10-month-old daughter.
Paul Martinka

Alig added, “We’d been up for 4 days. We have been utilizing crystal meth and we have been on ketamine and Rohypnol and cocaine …. Daniel threw water on [Melendez’s] face and he didn’t get up. That’s after we obtained that sinking feeling in our abdomen.”

Alig’s lawyer, the high-profile felony protection legal professional Gerald McMahon, instructed The Submit that Daniel “skated” on the time as a result of the Alig case was tied up with an even bigger investigation of infamous nightclub kingpin Peter Gatien — and in addition as a result of Daniel’s father was pleasant with then-Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau.

Daniel's apartment in Park Slope sits about a mile from his father's Brooklyn home.
Daniel’s house in Park Slope sits a few mile from his father’s Brooklyn residence.
Michael Dalton for NY Submit

“I instructed the DA that Daniel was concerned and that [investigators from the DA’s office] have been hiding it and that I meant to name the child in the course of the trial in our protection. I had subpoenaed him,” McMahon mentioned.

McMahon added that he had performed some “digging” that proved to him Daniel’s novelist father had some affect with Morgenthau. The DA’s workplace provided few particulars in regards to the case when The Submit requested about it final week. Morgenthau died in 2019. 

Not lengthy after McMahon subpoenaed Daniel to testify at Alig’s trial, the DA’s workplace abruptly lowered their plea provide for Alig to what McMahon mentioned he wished: a “candy” deal to plead responsible to first-degree manslaughter.

Consequently there was no trial and no name for Daniel to testify.

Mother Zuzan Smith, Daniel’s onetime partner, with Ruby.
Mom Zuzan Smith, Daniel’s onetime companion, with Ruby.

“This all occurred proper after I mentioned I used to be going to subpoena the child,” McMahon mentioned.

Det. Ralph Gengo and retired Det. Tom Comis, who labored within the detective bureau on the 122 Precinct in Staten Island, have been assigned to the case when the field containing Melendez’s armless and legless torso washed up on the shores of Staten Island. However, in response to Gengo, Morgenthau’s workplace in Manhattan took over the case and Gengo and Tomis needed to combat to be stored on as investigators.

After they arrested Alig and Riggs, the 2 cops have been instructed to face down and all their information on the case mysteriously disappeared from their workplace, Gengo instructed The Submit final week.

“It was a wierd case from day one,” Gengo mentioned.

Peter Gatien (above) was the owner of the notorious Limelight Club, where Alig was a major presence.
Peter Gatien (above) was the proprietor of the infamous Limelight Membership, the place Alig was a serious presence.
© Bettmann/CORBIS

Alig’s arrest, conviction and sentencing came about amid Morgenthau’s try and carry down Gatien — who owned the infamous Limelight, the place Alig was a serious presence, together with a number of different golf equipment.

Gatien got here into the crosshairs of each Morgenthau and then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who knew of the drug exercise at Gatien’s golf equipment and who noticed him as a giant fish that wanted to be caught as Giuliani tried to wash up New York Metropolis. Prosecutors went straightforward on Alig as a result of he initially had agreed to testify towards Gatien because the star witness in a drug-racketeering case towards the membership proprietor, sources instructed The Submit.

“The DA wished to get Gatien they usually wished Alig to assist them do this,” mentioned Ramon Fernandez, director of the documentary, “Glory Daze: The Life and Occasions of Michael Alig.” “They didn’t care about this [Hispanic] Angel Melendez. He was very low on the totem pole. They have been going after Gatien as if he have been Al Capone.”

(Gatien was acquitted of drug-racketeering and conspiracy prices in 1998 however was deported to Canada in 2003 after pleading responsible to tax evasion prices.)

Club Kids Michael Alig and Robert "Freeze" Riggs were convicted in the death of Angel Melendez (right).
Membership Youngsters Michael Alig and Robert “Freeze” Riggs have been convicted within the loss of life of Angel Melendez (proper).
Retna Ltd.

Fernandez interviewed dozens of individuals concerned with the Melendez case, together with Alig and the cops who discovered Melendez’s physique.

“Daniel was simply whisked away,” Fernandez mentioned. “The cops by no means obtained to talk to him. He was a toddler of privilege. Alig and the others didn’t come from a lot however Daniel did. I believe [the Auster family] despatched [Daniel] away after that and no person noticed him for a very long time.”

Paul Auster has been thought of one in every of New York’s largest literary lions for many years and is best-known for his bestselling “New York Trilogy,” first revealed in 1985, and novels equivalent to “The Music of Likelihood,” “Metropolis of Glass” and “Sundown Park.” His second spouse is the novelist Siri Hustvedt, Daniel’s stepmother.

Paul Auster and his wife Siri Hustvedt (with their daughter Sophie, center) have both written novels that seem to be inspired by Daniel's troubled past.
Paul Auster and his spouse Siri Hustvedt (with their daughter Sophie, middle) have each written novels that appear to be impressed by Daniel’s troubled previous.
Getty Photos

In journalist Frank Owen’s 2003 guide, “Clubland: The Fabulous Rise and Murderous Fall of Membership Tradition,” he writes that Daniel was “whisked out of the town to a secret location” by Paul Auster after the Melendez homicide, and that sooner or later his father organized a gathering between Daniel and DA Morgenthau.

“Morgenthau had a status for treating celebrities with child gloves,” Owen writes. “A gathering was organized at which Daniel instructed DA investigators that he’d heard Alig and Freeze plotting to stay up Angel for his stash the day earlier than his loss of life.” However, Owen writes, the DA determined the “junkie Daniel was an unreliable witness.”

Neither Paul nor Hustvedt have ever commented on Daniel publicly. However they each have featured younger male characters who seem like thinly-veiled variations of Daniel of their novels.

Michael Alig, one of Melendez's killers, died of a heroin overdose on Christmas Eve 2020.
Michael Alig, one in every of Melendez’s killers, died of a heroin overdose on Christmas Eve 2020.

In Hustvedt’s “What I Beloved,” she writes in regards to the troubled relationship between an artist, Invoice Wechsler, and his drug-addict son, Mark, and the son’s stepmother, Violet. Within the novel, Mark goes from a candy boy to a troubled, harmful teenager who upsets his father and scares his stepmother.

Invoice and Violet meet within the downtown artwork scene of the Nineteen Seventies and ’80s, and he or she helps Invoice increase Mark, his son from a earlier marriage. Mark will get combined up with a downtown artist, Teddy Giles, who brutally murders a Membership Child named Rafael Hernandez.

Within the novel, Mark Wechsler is rumored to be Giles’ lover and is cited as a doable confederate within the slaying. Mark’s household hires a lawyer for him who used to work within the DA’s workplace, and he’s finally exonerated.

Paul Auster (pictured with wife, Siri Hustvedt) has been considered one of New York’s largest literary lions for decades and is best-known for his bestselling “New York Trilogy.”
Paul Auster (pictured with spouse, Siri Hustvedt) has been thought of one in every of New York’s largest literary lions for many years and is best-known for his bestselling “New York Trilogy.”
Patrick McMullan through Getty Photos

“Violet had lengthy suspected that Mark hadn’t instructed the complete fact in regards to the homicide,” Hustvedt wrote. “Mark had fooled him the best way he had fooled us all …. I knew that by some definition each Teddy Giles and Mark … have been insane, examples of an indifference many regard as monstrous and unnatural; however in reality they weren’t distinctive and their actions have been recognizably human.”

Paul additionally wrote a personality seemingly based mostly on Daniel into his 2004 novel, “Oracle Night time.” The story is narrated by a author referred to as Trause — an anagram of the identify Auster — who has a drug-addicted son who terrorizes his stepmother.

“I keep in mind he actually did terrorize his stepmother. She wasn’t making that up in her books,” St. James instructed The Submit about Daniel. “He was a demon little one, like Damien from ‘The Omen.’ I additionally keep in mind that Daniel wished to be a serial killer. He was obsessive about the serial killer character within the guide ‘American Psycho.’”

At the time of Ruby's death, Daniel's partner told police that Ruby was alert and awake when she left to go to work that day.
On the time of Ruby’s loss of life, Daniel’s companion instructed police that Ruby was alert and awake when she left to go to work that day.

Little is understood about Daniel’s life as an grownup. He was reportedly residing in Florida for some time and labored as a DJ and landscaper in recent times. His house in Park Slope is a few mile from his father’s Brooklyn residence. It isn’t identified whether or not Ruby was his solely little one.

On the time of Ruby’s loss of life, he was residing together with his companion, Zuzan Smith, 25, who instructed police that Ruby was alert and awake when she left to go to work that day. Smith didn’t return repeated calls from The Submit.

Little is known about Daniel's life in more recent years. He was reportedly living in Florida for a while and worked as a DJ and landscaper before dying of an overdose this month.
Little is understood about Daniel’s life in more moderen years. He was reportedly residing in Florida for some time and labored as a DJ and landscaper earlier than dying of an overdose this month.

When The Submit reached Paul Auster at residence and requested about Daniel’s tragic loss of life and the opposite allegations on this story, he mentioned “no remark” and instructed the reporter to not name him once more.

However former associates of Daniel mentioned they have been shocked that his life led to such a manner, even realizing his darkish previous.

“I really feel just like the child was the ultimate sufferer of that Membership Youngsters and medicines period,” Ramon Fernandez mentioned. “The pull of heroin is so robust.”

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