Thursday, October 27, 2011
Sam Friedlander left notes before family massacre, killed wife with rolling pin
LEWISBORO — Sam Friedlander sent two letters to a family member and left another in his law office, all indicating his impending suicide but not his state of mind or that he intended to kill his wife and two children, state police said today.
"These were like his last wishes," lead investigator Brahim Dedusevic told The Journal News this afternoon.
Investigators also revealed that the 50-year-old lawyer bludgeoned his wife with a wooden rolling pin, initially mistaken by police for a broken-off furniture leg because it was covered in blood.
They also said he was taking several medications to treat depression, anxiety, insomnia and high blood pressure — and that he bought his shotgun and ammunition in April with cash. Friedlander, described by his wife's family as controlling and obsessive , had been taking several of the medications for at least a decade, police said. There was no indication that he had recently begun or stopped taking any of the prescription drugs.
Some speculate that the timing of his gun purchase — a couple weeks after he lost physical custody of his children to his wife, Amy, in a pending divorce —meant the killings were premeditated. Police wouldn't go so far as to conclude Friedlander bought it with murderous intentions, but did say there's no evidence he used or planned to use the Remington 870 for hunting, target practice or any other activity.
Dedusevic, who is continuing the probe into last week's Cross River massacre, said the letters were not discovered until after the killings. In almost-mundane fashion, Friedlander sets out who should inherit his belongings. One was dated Oct. 17. It was late that night, or early the next morning, that police say Friedlander began his killing spree. Two days later the estranged couple were due in court.
Police found one letter in his law office, where he worked alone above a deli in Bedford. On a piece of yellow stationary, the undated, handwritten note is addressed to no one in particular, but identified a certain family member in Massachusetts who should receive his things. Two of his three brothers live in that state. That same family member received two mailed letters from Friedlander a day or so after the killings.
Friedlander shot Molly, 10, and Gregory, 8, on the left side of their chests, as they were apparently resting peacefully in their beds, Dedusevic said. He used a rolling pin from the kitchen to beat his wife in their master bedroom, the scene of a violent struggle in which Amy Friedlander, 46, fought for her life. Friedlander, who had been living in a fourth-bedroom in the sprawling Colonial, then went down to the unfinished basement, pointed the barrel of his gun into his mouth and fired.
One of the mailed letters advised the family member that another letter held some important information. The other envelope contained a set of keys to his office, house and two cars, and a letter — mostly typed with some handwritten parts — willing various belongings to that relative. It also included key contact information, including the name and number of the landlord to his rented law office. Both were signed, "Love, Sam." They said nothing of his plan to kill himself.
"Nothing in those letters implied he would do anything to anybody else, but they did imply he might be harming himself," Dedusevic said.
The family member shared the two letters with police.
Police seized several computers from Friedlander's office and home, along with a few cell phones. Dedusevic said those are being examined by state forensic experts who, among other things, are looking for email communications and his web search history. The goal is to piece together his actions leading up to the killings.
At this point, police have found no evidence that anyone else was involved in the killings or knew of Friedlander's intentions.