Two arrested in Medford pharmacy murders

David Laffer, a suspect in the shooting deaths of four people at a pharmacy during a botched weekend painkiller robbery, is escorted out of Suffolk County Police Headquarters on Wednesday, June 22, 2011, in Yaphank, N.Y. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

June 22, 2011 8:16:45 PM PDT
Police have arrested one man for murder and his wife for robbery in connection with the Medford pharmacy murders.

As Eyewitness News first reported Wednesday morning, Suffolk County police escorted 33-year-old David Laffer and his wife, 29-year-old Melinda Brady, out of their home during a raid in Medford. Investigators remained on the scene into the evening, removing evidence from the home.

Officials say Laffer is charged with 1st Degree Murder and Resisting Arrest. Brady was arrested for Robbery 3rd degree for her involvement in the robbery and is also being charged with Obstructing Governmental Administration.

Both are being held in jail overnight and will be arraigned on their charges Thursday at First District Court in Central Islip.

Suffolk County Police will also hold a news conference Thursday morning at 10 a.m. to update the public.

The couple's house is just minutes away from Haven Drugs, where four people, two employees and two customers, were shot execution style.

Surveillance video shows the suspect taking a napsack full of painkillers and calmly walking out.

The Investigation

ABC News reports a spreadsheet in front of a Manhattan prosecutor provided key evidence that led to Wednesday's arrest.

When news of the drug store slaying broke, the detail that the killer stuffed his backpack with painkillers stood out to narcotics investigators.

A team of prosecutors and investigators at the New York City Office of Special Narcotics, went to a prescription drug database they maintain.

They found that Laffer had filled numerous prescriptions for hydrocodone, the generic for Vicodine and other drugs at the very drug store where the robbery took place.

He also lived in Medford near the pharmacy and he had a pistol permit.

At that point investigators pulled Dept. of Motor Vehicles records, got the suspect's photos and compared them to surveillance.

When it all looked like a match, investigators went to the DEA who brought it to Suffolk Police, leading detectives to their suspect.

Meanwhile, Eyewitness News has learned Laffer was previously employed at Cosa Instruments in Yaphank, where he worked "in logistics shipping and receiving." His former boss recognized him from surveillance photos and contacted police.

Police used a rotating fleet of unmarked cars to stake out his Medford house since 7:00 Tuesday morning, officials said.

Additionally, the investigation involved interviewing physicians who prescribe painkiller medication, with the premise that the suspect was "doctor shopping" for a physician who would give him illegal drugs. One physician in Queens identified him, but that did not directly lead to the arrest.

More than 11,000 pills of hydrocodone, the main ingredient in Vicodin, were allegedly stolen during the robbery along with three bottles of promethazine and eight bottles of cheratussin.

According to officials, Laffer was in possession of a weapon, had applied for Suffolk county pistol permit in 1998, but has no other obvious criminal history.

He claimed he previously served in the Army, but may have only been in the reserves.

Laffer played hockey with the Dragons Hockey, on Long Island, and married his wife in 2009 after proposing to her during an Islanders hockey game at the Nassau Coliseum three years earlier.

"David was not a sketchy person. I feel terrible. I don't know what happened and I just hope it's not him," Mike Pagliuca said.

Living two doors from Laffer, Mike has known him for years. He saw him grow up in this neighborhood.

Trish Bohlert lives next door.

"I'm shocked. When I pulled up and they told me they took Dave and Melinda away, I was absolutely shocked," she said.

Now she and others watch in disbelief, left only to wonder. What is most puzzling, some neighbors point out, is that they didn't think the picture of the suspect wanted in connection with the murders looks anything like Laffer.

He lived in a neatly kept house on Pitchpine Place with his wife upstairs and his mother downstairs, according to neighbors. His mother is said to work in the Patchogue-Medford school system.

"Her husband passed away some time ago. And I used to say to myself, 'Gee, how is Pam still holding up that house all by herself,'" Roseann Errera said.

Neighbors say her son was often seen cutting the grass and taking out the garbage.

The Victims

Meanwhile, the families and friends of the victims have begun the difficult process of saying goodbye.

An hour before the start of Jennifer Mejia's wake Wednesday afternoon, the teenager's extended family arrived at the Robertaccio Funeral Home in Patchogue to mourn the senseless killing of a smart and beautiful 17-year-old girl.

"It's not who she is, it's not what she give us. It's so we give the same thing back," Angel Ramirez, speaking for the family, said.

Mejia was set to graduate Thursday from Bellport High School. Her classmates, along with teachers and administrators, wiped away tears as they arrived at the funeral home, where Jennifer's body lay in the dress she was ready to wear to Wednesday night's prom - a prom that classmate Desmond Dennis says he will not attend.

"Because I just don't want to be seen without her being there, and other classmates - it is hard," he said.

A similar scene of grief and sorrow could be found in Farmingdale, where family and friends filled the McCourt and Trudden Funeral Home to say goodbye to Raymond Ferguson. The 45-year-old was working behind the drug-store counter Sunday morning when the gunman shot him dead.

Jamie Taccetta, 33, and Bryon Sheffield, 71, were also killed in the shooting.


Jennifer Mejia
Thursday- Wake at the Robertaccio Funeral Home on Route 112 between 2 and 4 p.m. and 7 and 9 p.m.
Friday- The funeral Mass will be at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church in Patchogue at 10 a.m., with burial following at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Coram.

Raymond Ferguson
Saturday- Funeral Mass at 10:45 a.m. at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Roman Catholic Church, 110-06 Queens Blvd., Forest Hills, Queens.

Jaime Taccetta
Thursday and Friday- Viewing at Moloney's Lake Funeral Home and Cremation Center, 132 Ronkonkoma Ave., Lake Ronkonkoma from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.
Saturday- Funeral Mass at 8 a.m. at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, 45 Church St., Ronkonkoma, followed by burial at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Coram.