A day after discovering a family of four dead in their Westchester County home, police say that Sam Friedlander, 50, beat his wife to death and fatally shot his two children in their beds before turning the gun on himself. Friedlander and wife Amy were in the process of divorcing, but they were still living in the same Cross River home: Amy in the master bedroom and Sam in a guest bedroom. Sam Friedlander's friends said his wife drove him to the senseless violence— one pal Michael Borg said, "I think it was just the constant berating. Everything he did she criticized. She belittled him in front of the kids," and that she treated him “like he was a piece of s--t, like he was worthless, totally emasculating him."
According to the Journal News, "Police said there appeared to have been a violent fight and Amy Friedlander, 46, died defending herself while being clubbed, apparently with a table leg. She was found on her side of the bed with the broken-off piece of furniture nearby." State Police Major Michael Kopy said, "We believe a struggle occurred and she was bludgeoned in the bedroom. It was a struggle that cost her her life." It's unclear whether the children were sleeping when they were killed but the Journal News reports, "there were no signs of struggle in their respective second-story bedrooms."
Amy Friedlander, whose 2000 wedding announcement revealed she attended Cornell for undergrad and got a MBA from the University of Pennsylvania and had been a vice president at Chase, was running a test-prep business. Her parents became concerned when she didn't contact them on Tuesday, so they called her business partner who then contacted the state police. A trooper discovered the bodies and the investigation began; the Wall Street Journal reports, "The police said that as news of the murder-suicide spread, they received dozens of calls from people who knew the family, several of whom claimed Mr. Friedlander's behavior had become more erratic recently."
Friends of Sam Friedlander, who worked as a lawyer, said that he had been acting erratically lately. A law school friend told the Journal News that when he saw him last year, "He looked like an emotionally beaten man. There came a point in time when he isolated himself from his friends. He went into his own cocoon, and we weren't able to get through to him... I can't put a handle on why he would take the lives of his kids but whatever it was was a result of years of emotional torment that he must have went through in that household."
Amy Friedlander's father Gary Perez said, "They don’t know what they’re talking about . . . My daughter was a nice, sweet, loving person," adding that his daughter was emotionally abused by her husband, "Hee didn’t make very much money and he didn’t support his family... If it wasn’t for my daughter, the kids wouldn’t have food." Perez also told the NY Times that the couple was still living in the house due to financial issues, "There was a lot of tension in the house; it was not good. Sam was living in that house because he could not afford to move out," and added to the WSJ, "She did feel threatened, but she couldn't get him out of the house."
Their neighbors and the community remain shocked. One neighbor said, "They seemed like a normal family. There were no indications of any problems. I saw him just two days ago outside with the kids. They looked happy," and the rabbi said, "The children were delightful and extremely happy in spite of what was going on at home."