Linda Riss Pugach, a woman who decades ago became the center of one of the most famous crimes of passion in New York City history, has died. She was 75.
Pugach's life, seemingly ripped from a true crime movie, made headlines in 1959 when her lover hired hit men to throw corrosive and poisonous chemical lye in her face, blinding her permanently. She became even more of a media sensation when in 1974 she married the man responsible for her attack, Burton Pugach.
Pugach died Tuesday at Forest Hills Hospital in Queens from heart failure, according to her husband and sole immediate survivor.
The infamous crime was dubbed "one of the most celebrated crimes of passion in New York history" by the New York Times
, and was captured in the 2007 documentary "Crazy Love."
Burton Pugach, a lawyer, spent 14 years in prison for hiring thugs to attack his then-girlfriend after she spurned him. He was married to a different woman at the time, but after his release Pugach divorced her and convinced Linda Pugach to marry him, according to The Associated Press. He proposed to her on live television. A book about the couple, "A Very Different Love Story," by Berry Stainback, was published in 1976.
The Pugaches seemed hungry for media attention in the decades following their marriage, as they spoke to media outlets often about their love for each other.
In 1997, Burton Pugach went on trial in Queens on charges that he had sexually abused a woman and threatened to kill her. His wife testified on his behalf, calling him a "wonderful, caring husband," according to the New York Times. The alleged victim was Pugach's mistress of five years.
He was convicted of a single count of second-degree harassment and sentenced to 15 days in jail.
Linda Pugach was born in the Bronx on Feb. 23, 1937, where she attended James Monroe High School. She met Burton Pugach, who specialized in negligence law, while working as a secretary at an air-conditioner dealership.
"This was a very fairy tale romance," Burton Pugach told the AP Thursday as he sobbed.
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