A woman was found beheaded outside her Long Island, New York home on Tuesday night, just minutes before a man walked in front of a commuter train and died. The two incidents were originally thought to be unrelated until officials discovered that the man was the woman's son.
In what is now being investigated as a murder-suicide, the incident was first thought to be a Halloween prank by the first on the scene. A few of the woman's neighbors attempted to lift the body to move what they thought was a dummy out of the street, but were shocked to find out that it was real.
"The body's feet were at the curb, the shoulders were at the middle of the street. The head was across the street," Witness Jack Imperial told the New York Daily News. "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."
Witnesses say they saw a man drag Ward's body out of her apartment building and onto the street before kicking her head 20 feet down the road. He then walked to a nearby railroad track where he jumped in front of an eastbound Long Island Railroad train.
The female murder victim was identified as 66-year-old Patricia Ward, a 28-year veteran professor at Farmington State College who taught Language Arts. Her son was identified at 35-year-old Derek Ward who is reported to have a history of mental illness, previous drug-related convictions, and arrests for gun possession and criminal mischief in the last 10 years.
"There's a lot of tears, it's a sad place today," Patrick Calabria, vice president of institutional advancement at the college where Ward worked told FoxNews.com. "She was well-known, well-liked and well-respected." Calabria says that the school is currently figuring out how to tell the professor's students and they have established grief counsel.
"Right now, the family is grieving, they have to make funeral arrangements," Calabria said. "After things settle down, we'll be in touch with her relatives to see what they'd like to do."
Despite recent beheadings in Oklahoma and the UK, and terror attacks in Canada and the US, police don't suspect this incident to be terrorist-related. The motive is still under investigation.