Investigation continues into family murder-suicide

October 20, 2011 6:11:22 PM PDT
Police are continuing their investigation Wednesday into a terrible tragedy in Westchester County, where a family of four was found dead in their home in an apparent murder-suicide.

The grim discovery is shocking the small community of Cross River, a hamlet in the town of Lewisboro.

Details are emerging about the gruesome incident, which happened at 2 Lambert Ridge Road.

Authorities say 46-year-old Amy and 50-year-old Samuel Friedlander were living under the same roof but in separate bedrooms.

A friend tells Eyewitness News that Sam was trying to move out but couldn't afford it.

So instead of settling his differences in divorce court, police say he used a gun and murdered his whole family.

"Very shocking news, I'm very upset to hear about that," said Adam Castiglione, a friend.

Investigators say just after midnight Tuesday, Sam Friedlander beat his estranged wife Amy to death with a table leg and shot his two children, 10-year-old Molly and 8-year-old Gregory.

The children were asleep in their beds when they were killed. Their bodies were covered up with blankets.

Friedlander then retreated to his basement and shot himself, according to police.

"Divorce is a crazy situation and when people get divorced I guess you go crazy. I don't know, it's horrible and scary," said Yvette Valente, a Westchester County resident.

Counselors worked with teachers at the Lewisboro Elementary School to comfort children, many of whom were friends with Molly and Gregory.

"Some children are concerned that if it happened to this person, it could happen to me and I have to explain, this is not like catching a cold," said Rabbi Carla Freedman, of the Jewish Family Congregation.

Connecticut divorce attorney Fred Siegel, who did not represent the Friedlander's, says that in tough economic times, it's more common for divorcing spouses to live together, but he doesn't advise it.

"It's a disaster waiting to happen," Siegel said.

The Friedlander's were supposed to be in divorce court on Thursday.

Siegel wonders if Sam Friedlander feared he was going to lose everything.

"The reason people do things like this is because divorce cuts to the core, it affects your relationship with your kids and what your future financial prospects will be," Siegel said.

According to people who knew the family, the Friedlander's were having financial problems and their house was on the market.

Siegel says it's important for people to seek counseling during a divorce because it can be so intensely stressful.

"There is life after divorce, but sometimes it's hard for people to appreciate because they feel like there are no alternatives," Siegel said.

Autopsy reports on the family are due out Thursday.

There was no prior indication the suspect was becoming violent, although some people stated they had recently seen a change in his behavior. The suspect had no criminal record.

Lewisboro police had responded to a domestic incident in 2006 at the home. Officials say it was an argument over the children that police called minor incident and certainly not characteristic of the family.

The attorneys representing Amy Friedlander in the divorce released a statement Thursday:

"We had the honor and privilege to represent Amy during her divorce proceeding. Throughout, she remained a superlative and devoted parent to both Molly and Gregory, a trusted and learned educator to her students and a wonderful and loving friend and confidant to the countless people in her life. Those who came in contact with Amy, if only for a moment, were better for it. The best interest of Molly and Gregory were Amy's sole motivation in this matter. Amy did everything within her power to shield the children from the marital discord.

The speculation by some of the media, and the obvious attempts to spin this story towards sensationalism, is both inappropriate and misleading. While the parties were involved in a divorce action, many of the issues including custody of and access to the children were resolved a number of months ago, with Amy retaining residential custody of the children and Mr. Friedlander having liberal access.

Comments to media by apparent friends of Sam Friedlander, falsely accusing Amy of certain conduct, is both shameful and untrue. As the Police have confirmed Mr. Friedlander's lone perpetration of this horrific and unimaginable crime, we will let his role in this event speak for itself.

Following the family's grieving process, should they deem it appropriate, more information will be shared with the media. Until then, we would ask that the media respect the privacy of Amy's family and friends. Buonamici & LaRaus, LLP Guttridge & Cambareri, P.C."

The funeral for Amy, Molly and Gregory Friedlander will be held on Sunday October 23, 2011 at 9:30 a.m. at the Levine Funeral Home: 4737 Street Road in TREVOSE, PA - and the shivah will be sitting at Jill Perez Gobora's home: 2021 Beacon Hill Drive, NEWTON, PA 18940.

To obtain directions to the funeral home, please go to