Oct. 19, 2011— -- A Westchester County, N.Y., man bludgeoned his wife to death and then shot his two children before killing himself, police said Wednesday.
Samuel Friedlander, 50, appeared to have had a violent struggle with his wife and killed her with the leg from a piece of furniture before using a 12-gauge shotgun to kill his children and himself early Tuesday morning, police said.
Friedlander and his wife, Amy Friedlander, were supposed to meet for a divorce proceeding today, according to police. Their Lewisboro, N.Y., house, advertised as having "cathedral ceilings and custom built-ins" on over an acre of wooded land in "sought-after" Michelle Estates, was up for sale with an asking price of $799,000.
The bodies were discovered at 3:40 p.m. Tuesday after Amy Friedlander's friend and business partner called 911 when she hadn't heard from her, according to Maj. Michael Kopy of the state police.
"She was aware that Mr. and Mrs. Friedlander had been involved in divorce proceedings and that she had not heard from Mrs. Friedlander during the day," Kopy said. "She felt that was unusual and she asked troopers to go out to the residence."
Police arrived at the locked house and asked the real estate agent in charge of selling the home to let them in using a lock box, Kopy said. The realtor waited outside while police searched the home and found the bodies.
Amy Friedlander was found dead on the floor of the master bedroom and had not been shot, while the children were found in their respective beds, shot in their torsos, police said. There was no sign of struggle with the children.
Samuel Friedlander shot himself in the basement of the family's home. Police have not found a suicide note and said other rooms in the home showed no evidence of any struggle.
Kopy could not comment on any possible motives.
Samuel Friedlander was an attorney in northern Westchester County, where he handled criminal defense work and community-based real estate, Kopy said. People that knew Friedlander told police they noticed his behavior had changed recently.
"There was some indication that Mr. Friedlander had been acting somewhat irrationally. His behavior over the past weeks and months had been inconsistent with his previous behavior," Kopy said. "People noticed some changes."
"I can't provide any more description other than this is the information that's been conveyed to us by subjects that had been interviewed, who noticed an unusual pattern of behavior. People familiar and friendly with him stated that he was displaying behavior that he not behaved in the past," Kopy said.
Amy Friedlander was a self-employed tutor who reportedly worked at John Jay Prep, an academic and college test prep tutoring service.
Police do not know where Samuel Friedlander got the gun. He had no history of violence or mental illness, though police were once called out for a non-violent domestic dispute at the home, Kopy said.
Despite the divorce proceedings, Friedlander was still living in the home, authorities said, but not sleeping in the master bedroom.
The children -- Molly, 10, and Gregory, 8 -- were students at Lewisboro Elementary School.
Police said Wednesday afternoon that autopsies are still being performed on the bodies and the investigation into where and when the weapon was purchased will continue, in addition to interviews with family and friends.