Farmingdale State College Professor ID’d in Murder-Suicide, Police Say

Patricia Ward
Longtime Farmingdale State College professor Patricia Ward was allegedly decapitated Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014 by her son in a murder-suicide, police said Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Farmingdale State College)

A Farmingdale State College professor was decapitated by her son before he committed suicide by jumping in front of a eastbound Long Island Rail Road train Tuesday night, Nassau County police said.

Patricia Ward was allegedly killed by her son, Derek, sometime between 4 p.m. and shortly before 8 p.m. Tuesday in their Secatogue Avenue apartment in Farmingdale, Det. Lt. Azzata, commander of the Nassau Homicide Squad, told reporters at a press conference Wednesday. The suspect then allegedly dragged the victim, who had multiple stab wounds and broken ribs, from the second floor apartment into the street, where she was found, according to investigators.

“We have no known ties to any terrorism,” Azzata said of the beheading, the same method of killing recently televised by the terrorist group ISIS.

Police were initially called to the victim’s home at 7:55 p.m. after a woman in her 60s was found dead in an apparent homicide, according to police. Twenty-five minutes later, Nassau cops were notified by MTA police that a man in his 30s was fatally struck by an eastbound LIRR train—just one mile west from where the woman was killed.

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

Azzata said that Ward’s son had a history of psychiatric disorders spanning at least a decade and had been arrested by police several times in the past, including a gun charge for possessing a 9 mm handgun in 2006 and a criminal mischief charge three years prior. His issues worsened over the past year since his paternal grandfather died, Azzata added.

A knife was recovered by police, though Azzata said it was too soon to say whether it was the murder weapon. Homicide Squad detectives are continuing the investigation.

Ward was an assistant professor of language arts in the school’s LI Educational Opportunity Center, which works with high school students who need help to become prepared for college, Calabria said.