Biglaw, Deaths, Divorce Train Wrecks, Guns / Firearms, Murder, Solo Practitioners, Suicide, Violence

An Update on the Sam Friedlander Family Murder-Suicide

In mid-October, we brought you news of a tragic family murder-suicide that took place in Westchester County, New York. The apparent perpetrator, solo practitioner Samuel Friedlander, an alumnus of Western New England University School of Law, reportedly beat his wife to death and then shot and killed his two young children, before committing suicide.

As we noted in Morning Docket last week, there was some speculation as to whether the massacre had been premeditated. Today, we bring you an update on the slayings, including information on possible premeditation and additional background regarding Friedlander’s employment history.

Which major law firm did Sam Friedlander once work for?

Since the brutal murders, more facts have been uncovered about Sam Friedlander’s past. Thanks to one of our commenters, we now know that Friedlander once worked as an associate at Skadden Arps. One of his former co-workers (who also happened to be a former girlfriend) had this to say about him:

Sam was a gentle guy. . . . [The] fact the he killed his kids really blows my mind. Sam genuinely liked kids, and the elderly as well. I can honestly say that Sam was a nicer person than I am, and nicer than almost everyone else I knew at Skadden… at least until [the time of the murders]. I have to believe that he had some sort of mental breakdown.

I cannot fathom what must have happened to Sam, but this was not the Sam I knew 20 years ago. If it’s any consolation at all, please know that none of us who knew him would ever have imagined it would come to this.

And thanks to mainstream media reports, we know that Friedlander had apparently been taking medication for at least a decade to treat depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Although that may sound like a dangerous combination of prescription drugs to some, police have stated that there was no indication that Friedlander had stopped taking any of his medications.

Police now theorize, however, that on the evening of the killings, Friedlander may have sedated his children before shooting them. Fox News New York reports that “Gregory and Molly apparently slept unaware of the deadly fight between their parents because cops believe their father had already sedated them.”

Perhaps he used some of his own medications to do so? At least he attempted to spare his children some pain before murdering them.

As to whether the slayings were premeditated, while it is true that Friedlander purchased a shotgun just weeks after he received an unsatisfactory custody arrangement, a letter left in his office, purportedly a suicide note, did not indicate that he had planned to kill his family. The Journal News has more information:

Sam Friedlander sent two letters to a family member and left another in his law office, all indicating his impending suicide but not his state of mind or that he intended to kill his wife and two children, state police said.

“These were like his last wishes,” lead investigator Brahim Dedusevic told The Journal News Thursday afternoon.

It’s no surprise that an attorney drafted a will for himself before his own death. But with evidence that Friedlander purchased the gun and ammunition with cash, and sedated his children before killing them and his wife, how can we really say that this wasn’t all premeditated?

We can’t. We await more detective work before we can really lay these premeditation rumors to rest.

Sam Friedlander ‘last wishes’ notes don’t mention intent to kill family; wife killed with rolling pin [Journal News]
Friedlander Sedated Children Before Shooting Them, Sources Say [Fox News New York]
NY Attorney Who Killed Wife and Kids Left Letter in Law Office Suggesting Suicide, Not Slayings [ABA Journal]

Earlier: Western New England Law Alum in Tragic Family Murder-Suicide

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