The New York man who beheaded his mother before jumping in front of a train Tuesday night was off his medication and scheduled to see his psychiatrist, according to family.
Rev. Robert Lubrano, brother of slain professor Patricia Ward, told the New York Daily News that his nephew, Derek Ward, had not taken his medication for four days when he killed his mother.
"She's dead because he had a mental illness, and we didn't know how serious it was," Lubrano told the newspaper. "We're in terrible shock. She was a wonderful person... [He was a] sick, sick, kid."
Lubrano said that Derek Ward, 35, had never been violent toward his mom before the gruesome slaying. His uncle blamed the deaths on lack of access to psychiatric help.
“He never raised his hand to her before this. Never had a gun. This is all about mental illness and the difficulty of getting a psychiatrist,” Lubrano said.
Patricia Ward, 66, was killed and beheaded in her Farmingdale apartment on Tuesday night. Derek Ward dragged his mother's body into the street, and then kicked her head across the road.
Passersby at first thought the crime scene was a sick Halloween prank.
“The body’s feet were at the curb, the shoulders were at the middle of the street. The head was across the street,” said witness Jack Imperial, who saw the scene from a cab. “I’ve seen some gruesome stuff in my years of living... but nothing like this. I didn’t expect to see something like this, especially not out here.”
Patricia Ward was a professor of language arts at Farmingdale State College, a spokesman for the school said Wednesday. She taught there for 28 years.
"[She was] well-liked, well-known and well-respected," Spokesman Patrick Calabria told the New York Post. "We are in shock. The staff in her department is teary-eyed... A lot of people are taking it very hard."