Amy Friedlander ’87 was found dead in her Westchester home Tuesday afternoon along with her husband and two children, in what police say was a murder-suicide.
New York State Police say Samuel Friedlander, 50, bludgeoned his wife, Amy Friedlander, 46, to death with the leg of a piece of furniture. He then fatally shot their two children, Molly, 10, and Gregory, 8, as they slept in their respective beds, tucked them in under their bedspreads and proceeded downstairs to the basement of the house, where he shot himself in the head.
The killings occurred in the Friedlanders’ home in Cross River, a hamlet of the Town of Lewisboro in Westchester County, N.Y.
According to police, Amy Friedlander’s business partner called the police Tuesday when she did not hear from Amy. State troopers arrived on the scene at about 3:40 p.m. to find Amy Friedlander lying on her side on the floor of the master bedroom. Police said the children were found in their bedrooms dressed in pajamas. Each had been shot in the torso.
Investigators identified the weapon as a 12-gauge Remington pump-action shotgun, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
Major Michael Kopy, of the state police, said at a press conference Wednesday that police were looking into where Samuel obtained the gun. The investigation led police to believe Samuel Friedlander and Amy Friedlander fought Monday night and into Tuesday morning, which precipitated her death, Kopy said.
According to police, no suicide note was found.
Kopy said Amy and Samuel had been involved in divorce proceedings and were due to appear in court on Thursday. Samuel had been sleeping in a guest bedroom, adjacent to the master bedroom and across the hall from the children’s bedrooms, police said.
Acquaintances of the family told police that Samuel’s behavior had become erratic in the months and weeks leading up to the crime, The Times reported. Friends of Samuel described him to The Times as “depressed” and said he had retreated “into his own cocoon.”
In 2006, police responded to a domestic dispute at the Friedlanders’ home when the couple had an argument about their children. Kopy called the 2006 incident “minor” on Wednesday and told press that it “was not indicative of what we saw here [on Tuesday].”
Friends of the family told The Times that the couple had been having marital troubles for years, and some friends told the press that the issues may have been a result of financial difficulties. The Friedlanders put their Cross River home up for sale within the last few months, according to The Times.
Amy Friedlander, who graduated cum laude from Cornell with a mathematics major and held an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania, was a former vice president at Chase Manhattan Bank, according to a 2000 wedding announcement in The Times. In June 2011, she opened John Jay Prep, a tutoring service for college-bound students, with another mother in the Lewisboro area, according to the program’s site. Samuel Friedlander was a lawyer at his own law firm in Bedford Hills, his colleagues told the press.
Their children, Molly and Gregory, attended Lewisboro Elementary School. School ran at normal hours Wednesday, but Superintendent Paul Kreutzer told the press that school officials were prepared to respond to the crisis. Social workers, psychologists and other resources were available for students, families and staff on Wednesday, Kreutzer said.
An event titled “In Remembrance of the Friedlander Family” was posted on Facebook. Its description calls for members of the community to wear colored clothing Friday — women to wear pink for Molly and men to wear blue for Gregory. As of Thursday night, over 1,000 were attending.
Elana Marber ’12 worked as a counselor at the summer camp that Molly Friedlander attended, Camp Chipinaw.
“Molly’s death has affected everyone from Chipinaw and Chipinaw at Silver Lake,” Marber said. “We are all shocked and devastated that something like this could happen. All of the staff and campers past and present are showing their support for the family during this tragedy.”
At Cornell, Amy Friedlander was a member of Kappa Delta sorority.
“We are still in shock at this horrible tragedy,” Kristen Lysenko ’13, president of Kappa Delta, said. “Many of our very involved alumnae knew Amy. Kappa Delta has lost a great sister.”
Amy Siskind ’87 was in Amy Friedlander’s new member class in Kappa Delta. Siskind said the two were close friends and lived in the Kappa Delta house together in adjacent rooms.
“Amy was a gentle soul, brilliant, loyal to a fault,” Siskind said. “She was a warm, kind-hearted person, and she did not deserve — nobody deserves — to be bludgeoned to death with a chair leg.”
According to The New York Times and other media outlets, friends of Samuel Friedlander’s have claimed that Amy Friedlander was verbally abusive to her husband and that she tried to turn their children against him.
Siskind, the president and co-founder of The New Agenda, a nonprofit women’s advocacy group, described the Friedlanders’ marriage as a “cookie cutter case of domestic violence,” and criticized the media for what she said was an attempt to blame Amy for her husband’s abuse.
While Siskind acknowledged there was no way to know for sure if Samuel was physically violent prior to the murders, she said Amy had made several calls to the police after arguments with her husband, including the 2006 call that prompted a police visit to the home.
“You don’t call the police unless you feel endangered in your own home,” Siskind said. “These things follow a very typical pattern. [Samuel] was clearly a very disturbed individual who had violent tendencies, and there is no excuse for what happened.”