crimesider

Mom, son ID'd in decapitation, train death murder-suicide

Patricia Ward

CBS New York

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- Police say Patricia Ward, a woman who was found decapitated Tuesday in central Long Island, was killed by her son, Derek Ward, who then committed suicide.

Derek Ward, 35, who was struck and killed by a train, had a history of psychiatric issues, CBS New York reports.

Patricia Ward, 66, worked at Farmingdale State College for nearly three decades, according to a statement released by the school. She was found dead just before 8 p.m. Tuesday, about 25 minutes before her son died, authorities said.

The school said Ward was an assistant professor of language arts in its Long Island Educational Opportunity Center on campus, which works with high school students who need help preparing for college.

"Patricia Ward was a member of the campus for 28 years," the college said in the statement. "She was well-known, well-liked and well-respected. The campus is a very sad place today."

Just before 8 p.m. Tuesday, police responded to a report that a woman's body was found on the pavement just outside an apartment building in Farmingdale.

After exiting a Long Island Railroad train, Jack Imperial was a passenger in a cab heading to Queens when he and the driver saw a gruesome sight. He told 48 Hours' Crimesider he could see that the woman was decapitated, with her head nearby.

"My driver got startled and pointed and there was a head, and I looked to the left and there was a body," Imperial told Crimesider. "It looked unreal, it looked staged, no one was freaking out or anything. I was hoping it may have been a Halloween prank."

About 25 minutes after Patricia Ward was found, police were notified that a man was struck and killed by a Long Island Rail Road train.

Derek Ward died less than one-quarter of a mile away from where his mother's body was found.