Patricia Ward, 66, a beloved language arts professor, was brutally murdered by her son in her Farmingdale, N.Y., home late Tuesday.
Onlookers thought it was a Halloween prank when they saw 35-year-old Derek Ward drag his mother’s headless body into the street before kicking her severed head about 20 feet away. He killed himself a short time later by jumping in front of a Long Island Railroad train. His body was found a mile down the track.
In addition to having been arrested previously for criminal mischief and gun possession, Nassau County police sources said Derek Ward had a 10-year psychiatric history and an apparent drug problem. The motive for the killing is unknown.
Patricia Ward, a longtime professor at Farmingdale State College, was a popular and well-respected instructor. I didn’t go to school there, but one of my buddies named Christian did, and I think he may have even had a class with her. The school is providing counseling for students and faculty members, and considering how to memorialize her.
Police do not believe there is a terrorism connection despite the many beheadings in recent news.