Dr. Janet Chollet Bierenbaum, the second wife of Dr. Robert Bierenbaum, supported him as he faced trial in the murder of his first wife, Gail Katz Bierenbaum, according to news coverage from his court appearances.
He was convicted of second-degree murder in 2000 and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. He is now eligible for parole and faces a parole hearing in November 2021. At a parole hearing in December 2020, he confessed to killing his wife and dumping her body from a plane, according to the New York Daily News.
ABC 20/20 is revealing new details in the case in its new episode tonight. The two-hour special describes Bierenbaum, a multilinguistic surgeon, skier, chef and pilot, as a “Jekyl and Hyde” figure. The episode premieres Friday, October 22, 2021, at 9 p.m. Eastern time.
Here’s what you need to know:
Chollet Bierenbaum Asked a Judge for Leniency for Her Husband After He Was Convicted in the Murder of His First Wife
Robert Bierenbaum married his second wife, Dr. Janet Chollet, after moving to Las Vegas, Nevada, and the couple had a child together, according to The Charley Project. They later moved to North Dakota, where he became a prominent doctor, the article said. Chollet is also a doctor who practices obstetric gynecology.
Chollet submitted a letter asking a judge for leniency in Bierenbaum’s case as part of a 60-page memo in which friends and family members spoke about Bierenbaum’s work and character, according to the New York Post. The memos asked that Bierenbaum be sentenced to the minimum penalty allowed by law, 15 years to life in prison, the article said. Bierenbaum volunteered to perform reconstructive surgery on children in Mexico who had deformities, Scott Greenfield, his attorney, wrote in the memo, according to the Post.
Chollet described Bierenbaum as “a gentle husband and devoted father,” the Post reported. Their daughter was 2 years old at the time in 2000, the article said.
“Bob is as human as one can be,” Chollet wrote, according to the Post. “He was in tears when he held his daughter Annah for the first time . . . he rushed over, placed the pediatric stethoscope on her tiny chest, glanced back at me and simply cried.”
Chollet Kissed Her Husband & Left the Courtroom Before His Verdict Was Read
Chollet was unable to sit through the reading of her husband’s verdict in 2000, according to the New York Post. Instead, she kissed him and told him “Good luck,” before leaving the courtroom, the article said.
“It was too emotional for her,” Bierenbaum’s attorney, Scott Greenfield, told the Post.
Katz Bierenbaum’s body was never found. Bierenbaum moved from Manhattan to Las Vegas in 1989, the same year that a partial female body washed ashore in Staten Island, New York, according to The Charley Project. Although no DNA tests were available at the time to confirm whether the remains were that of the missing woman, “it was assumed that Gail had been located,” The Charley Project reported.
The remains were buried, the article said. Katz-Bierenbaum’s family requested that the remains be reexamined in 1997 when DNA testing became available, according to The Charley Project. DNA tests showed the body was not Katz-Bierenbaum, the missing person’s website reported.