Son Beheads Mother… Kills Self in Murder-Suicide


Cops investigate woman’s beheading, son’s train death as a murder-suicide

by Susan Candiotti and Ray Sanchez, CNN

New York (CNN) — A New York college professor was beheaded and her body dumped outside an apartment building by her son, who later killed himself by stepping in front of a commuter train, police said.

The woman has been tentatively identified as Patricia Ward, a 66-year-old assistant professor at Farmingdale State College on Long Island, Detective Lt. John Azzata of the Nassau County Police told reporters Wednesday.

She was decapitated shortly before 8 p.m. Tuesday by Derek Ward, 35, with a kitchen knife in the second-floor apartment they shared, Azzata said. Patricia Ward had multiple stab wounds and broken ribs, police said.

The son either carried or dragged his mother’s body down the stairs, through the lobby and left it on the street, Azzata said. Her head was found about five feet from the body, leaving some neighbors to think the gruesome scene was a Halloween stunt.

“I literally thought it was a prank,” one resident said, according to CNN affiliate WCBS. “We saw the body on one side and saw the head on the other side. I thought everything was a prank.”

Less than a half hour after his mother’s body was found, Derek Ward apparently jumped in front of a Long Island Rail Road train heading east from Penn Station in Manhattan, police said.

“It appears that this is a murder-suicide,” Azzata said.

Patricia Ward was an assistant professor of language arts at the college’s Long Island Educational Opportunity Center, which helps high school students prepare for college.

“Patricia Ward was a member of the campus for 28 years,” Patrick Calabria, the college vice president for institutional advancement and enrollment, said in a statement. “She was well-known, well-liked and well-respected. The campus is a very sad place today.”

Derek Ward, who was unemployed, had a history of psychiatric problems dating back 10 years, his condition exacerbated in the last years after the death of his maternal grandfather, according to Azzata.

Police said there were no reported domestic incidents at the Ward home.

Derek Ward had a 2003 arrest for criminal mischief and received a fine and probation, Azzata said.

In 2006, Derek Ward was arrested for criminal possession of a 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun as well as a drug charge, Azzata said. He received a 45-day sentence and three years’ probation.

“It’s insane,” a Farmingdale resident said of the murder-suicide, according to WCBS. “You never think something like that’s going to happen right outside your doorstep.”

The motive is under investigation.

“We did not know anything about her family life,” Calabria told CNN. “We are all in shock.”

Obama says it is ‘Probably Useful’ for US to Review Police Militarization after Ferguson

President Obama today gave his longest and most detailed statements about the week long clashes between protesters and heavily armed police in Ferguson, Missouri, saying he was open to the idea of reviewing the collection of federal programs that supply local police departments with surplus military gear. “I think it’s probably useful for us to review how the funding has gone, how local law enforcement has used grant dollars, to make sure that what they’re purchasing is stuff they actually need,” a visibly tired Obama said at a White House press conference this afternoon, after cutting his vacation short to return to Washington, DC.

The president also sought to defend the police response to some extent, saying “it’s clear that the vast majority of people are peacefully protesting. What’s also clear is that a small minority of individuals are not,” in reference to looting of several stores in Ferguson and reports that Molotov cocktails were thrown at police.

Obama further announced that his top law enforcement official, US Attorney General Eric Holder, would be traveling to Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with protesters and FBI agents spearheading a civil rights investigation into the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old African American man who was shot six times by a local police officer.

Brown’s killing on August 9th galvanized the mostly African-American community of Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, to take to the streets in protest over the eight days, only to be met with a harsh crackdown by the mostly white local police force in armored vehicles, tear gas, and high-powered weaponry. The collection of local and state police agencies in Ferguson have been widely criticized for their response to the protests, including the arrest and intimidation of several journalists. After further clashes last night, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon ordered the National Guard be deployed today to reinforce and help protect police in Ferguson.