Police said Kenneth Bernstein, 24, entered the Seafood America take-out restaurant on Frankford Avenue near Shelmire Street from a rear door about 10:30 p.m. and used a razor blade to slash the throat of his wife, Donna Bernstein, 24, of Sheffield Avenue near Erdrick Street.
A dozen or so horrified employees leaped on the assailant and subdued him.
The victim, the mother of a 2-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son, was pronounced dead at 11:03 p.m. Wednesday at Frankford Hospital, Torresdale Division. She had gotten a protection order Dec. 1 prohibiting him from coming near her, police said.
Kenneth Bernstein of Teesdale Street near Erdrick, was arrested and charged with murder, criminal trespass and weapons violations. He remains in custody, police said.
Madeline Schwartz, a Center City lawyer who was representing Donna Bernstein in her pending divorce and protection-from-abuse order against Kenneth, said she was "devastated."
"She was just a lovable, sweet thing, so mild," Schwartz said. "Whatever I told her to do, it was OK. She was very well spoken, a very wonderful human being. She only wanted the best for her children. She just wanted him to leave her alone."
Schwartz said Kenneth Bernstein was physically abusive to his wife, a petite brunette with "big, pretty eyes." About a month ago she moved out with her children, she said.
Schwartz said Kenneth Bernstein was "very volatile" and had an explosive temper.
Donna Bernstein got an emergency restraining order against her husband Dec. 1 and the final order was signed Monday by Family Court Judge Myrna P. Field, Schwartz said.
DiPrimio said Kenneth Bernstein had appeared in court with his wife in November and heard a Family Court judge order him to stay away from her.
"He even signed the order. This was done by the t's," DiPrimio said. ''She was represented by a lawyer and so was he. He agreed to stay away
Donna Bernstein and her children had been living with her parents, said her brother, Michael Long.
Long said there "had been some arguments" between his sister and her estranged husband, adding "I would never have expected him to do something like this."
The couple had lived in a home in the same Mayfair rowhouse neighborhood as their parents, said Thomas Petrowski, Kenneth Bernstein's step-brother.
"Donna was a wonderful, wonderful girl . . . and she shouldn't have had to suffer. Hopefully, she's in a better place," he said.
At the seafood restaurant, about four blocks from her home, about a half- dozen employees worked yesterday afternoon filling orders for people celebrating the holiday. Restaurant owner Dave Pellegrini, his eyes bloodshot
from the strain of the day, said he and his workers had little time to console each other.
Police interviewed workers until 5 a.m. yesterday, he said. "Half of my employees are seeing counselors," he said, "They're working the best they can."