The Long Island woman found beheaded on the street in front of an apartment complex in Farmingdale on Tuesday night has been identified as 66-year-old Farmingdale State College professor Patricia Ward. Police have confirmed that her 35-year-old son, Derek, killed her before jumping in front of an oncoming Long Island Rail Road train.
Patricia's brother Gusoff Ward told CBS New York that Derek had suffered from mental illness for years, and that he had been discharged from a psychiatric hospital two months earlier. "Prior to yesterday's incident, we have no reported domestic incidents between Derek and his mother, Patricia," Nassau County Detective Lt. John Azzata told CBS New York.
At a press conference, Azzata detailed Tuesday night's events, including how Patricia Ward's body and severed head ended up in the street. "There were multiple signs of trauma, multiple stab wounds, broken ribs," Azzata said. "The weapon used was believed to be a knife. That knife was recovered." From the New York Daily News:
As 8 p.m. drew near Tuesday night, Derek Ward dragged his mother's headless corpse out of their second-floor home, down a staircase, through the building lobby and onto the street, Azzata said. He also carried her head outside.
After leaving his mother's torso and head on either side of Secatogue Road, he walked three blocks to the vicinity of the Clinton St. crossing for the Long Island Rail Road and took a dive in front of an oncoming eastbound train.
The Daily News also reports that Derek Ward had a criminal history:
Derek Ward spent 45 days behind bars after a 2006 conviction for possession of 100 Valium pills and a 9-mm. Smith & Wesson handgun. He also was arrested in 2003 on a criminal mischief charge.
Cops said the killer's already unstable mental health deteriorated further after his grandfather died in August 2013.
Patricia Ward had been teaching at Farmingdale State College for 28 years. "She was well-known, well-liked and well-respected," the school said in a statement. "The campus is a very sad place today."