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FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — A man with a history of psychiatric problems decapitated his mother, dragged her body into the street in front of their home, then killed himself by walking into the path of an oncoming train, police said Wednesday.

Patricia Ward, a 66-year-old college professor, was killed Tuesday night in her Farmingdale apartment, just steps from a Long Island Rail Road station, Nassau County Police Detective Lieutenant John Azzata said. Her body was found in the street, her head several paces away, police said. A knife was recovered in the apartment.

Ward’s 35-year-old son, Derek, committed suicide several minutes later by walking in front of a commuter train, Azzata said.


Derek Ward was arrested years ago for gun possession and criminal mischief and had a psychiatric history going back about 10 years, authorities said. The mother and son had lived in the apartment for about three months, and police had no record of any domestic violence complaints, Azzata said.