A former plastic surgeon who had long denied killing his wife has confessed to strangling her to death and throwing her body out of an airplane, according to a report published Thursday, October 21.
Robert Bierenbaum, who is serving a sentence of 20 years to life in prison, revealed the details of the shocking 1985 murder during a December 2020 parole hearing whose transcript was recently obtained by ABC News.
A Manhattan, New York jury convicted him based on circumstantial evidence presented at a 2000 murder trial, but this is the first time he admitted to killing Gail Katz.
“I wanted her to stop yelling at me and I attacked her,” he reportedly told the parole board at the hearing.
Now aged 66, Bierenbaum was 29 when he killed his wife, who was also 29.
Bierenbaum blamed his actions on being “immature” at the time and not understanding “how to deal with his anger,” according to the transcript. He also detailed what he did to the body, which has never been found.
“I went flying. I opened the door and then took her body out of the airplane over the ocean,” he reportedly said.
Court prosecutors said Bierenbaum rented a plane out of New Jersey the day his wife died but doctored his flight log to pretend he went flying the following day.
Their marriage was reportedly toxic, with Katz reportedly telling a neighbor once that she no longer felt comfortable at home.
Katz’ sister said Bierenbaum caught his wife smoking on their balcony one night and he choked her until she became unconscious, ABC News reported. Katz reported the attack to police but her husband was not charged with a crime.
As the case grew cold, Bierenbaum moved on with his life, remarried, had a daughter and opened medical practices in Las Vegas and North Dakota. But prosecutors never gave up on the case and eventually charged him with second-degree murder more than a ten years after the killing.
Katz’s sister, Alayne, told the court during Bierenbaum’s sentencing hearing in 2000 that her brother-in-law killed the victim “to prevent her from exposing him as a violent and twisted man,” according to The New York Times.
One of the prosecutors in the case, Dan Bibb, told ABC he was “stunned” by Bierenbaum’s confession because he thought the convicted murderer would never “own up” and “take responsibility for his actions.
Bierenbaum will have a shot at parole in a court hearing scheduled for November, according to ABC network.