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Imagine — it’s a few days before Halloween. You’re on your way home from a long day of work when suddenly, you see a human head lying in the street.
“Is it a prank?” you wonder, thinking something so horrifying couldn’t possibly be real.
For the residents of Farmingdale, New York, what looked like a macabre prank turned out to be a very real — and very horrifying — murder-suicide case, according to Nassau County Police Detective Lieutenant John Azzata.
According to the Associated Press, Patricia Ward, a 66-year-old language arts professor at Farmingdale State College, was decapitated by her 35-year-old son and dragged into the street in front of their home.
Police say Ward’s son, Derek, then committed suicide several minutes later by walking in front of a commuter train.
A neighbor of the Wards, Dale Silverman, saw the body of Patricia Ward.
“I saw what I thought was a head in the street. I saw long, black, straight hair and the head face down,” she said Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. “And I did a double-take. And I opened the window and said, ‘No, that can’t be what that is.'”
“I saw the body, completely straight legs together, hands at its side,” said Silverman.
Silverman said she’d thought it was a Halloween prank.
Ward’s son reportedly had psychiatric problems and had been arrested years ago for criminal mischief and gun possession, police said.
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