MEDFORD, NY (CBSNewYork) — Neighbors of David Laffer said they’re in disbelief that the 33-year-old has been arrested and charged in the pharmacy massacre that left four people dead on Sunday.
Laffer looked like a happy man when he married his wife Melinda Brady. She called him her “best friend” and “soulmate”. They picked “At Last” by Etta James for their first wedding dance.
The picture of the couple Thursday was quite different .
Laffer was arrested Wednesday on charges of murder and resisting arrest for the execution-style murders of four people at the Haven Pharmacy in Medford.
Laffer’s situation changed considerably in recent years — enough that police said he was the man so desperate for prescription pills that he turned to murder to get them.
1010 WINS’ Writer/Editor Walter Geis Remembers Laffer As A Nice Guy
The allegations stunned many neighbors who knew the former Army private.
“I can’t believe it; I can’t,” Carmen Montero said. “I’m shocked that this could possibly be David.”
“I would never ever think that anyone who lived around our area of Pitchpine would ever do anything like this,” said neighbor RoseAnne Errera.
Zaida Ayala, a family friend of the Laffers, said she talked about the pharmacy killings with the suspect’s mother, Pam.
“She said to me, ‘Zaida, this is not the neighborhood we live in,’ and she said, ‘I hope they find this person,'” said Ayala.
WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports: Many Residents Say They’re Relieved
Cheryl Stephen said she still can’t believe this accused cold-blooded killer lived right down the block from her parents in the house where she grew up.
“It’s just very unsettling. Of course you feel better that he’s caught, but it’s like you don’t know who your neighbors are. It’s unbelievable,” said Stephen.
Since the murders, Stephen says she just doesn’t feel as safe.
1010 WINS’ writer and editor Walter Geis used to play hockey with Laffer in an amateur league in Farmingdale. He said he remembers Laffer as being “a nice kid.”
“Whenever you play hockey you always meet some aggressive guys, he wasn’t exactly the type to back down but he wasn’t one of these guys that were always looking for a fight either,” Geis said.
Next-door neighbor Trish Bohlert said Laffer was always friendly.
“Something must have made him snap, because his personality, I can’t picture him robbing a store, much less hurt people,” she said.
Some have said the local boy who lived with his wife and mother at her house changed, saying he started abusing Vicodin. Law enforcement sources say his wife also got hooked on prescription pills.
Two weeks ago, Laffer lost his job as a shipping clerk at a company in Yaphank, reportedly for stealing from a co-worker, CBS 2’s Wendy Gillette reports. His health insurance was gone, and he reportedly signed up for food stamps last week.
Killed Sunday were pharmacist Raymond Ferguson, 45, Jennifer Mejia, 17, and customers Bryon Sheffield, 71, and 33-year-old Jaime Taccetta.
Taccetta’s grandmother, Pat Muran, rushed to the neighborhood as soon as she heard of Laffer’s arrest.
“You’re the devil and God always wins out,” she said, shaking. “Your day will come.”
Mejia had planned on wearing her prom dress Wednesday night along with her classmates at the Bellport High school prom. Instead, the murdered teenager will be laid to rest in the dress.
Her cap and gown were carried into the wake as a line of mourning friends and family stood in a line wrapped around the funeral home.
Thursday evening, her classmates will be going ahead with their graduation, a ceremony overshadowed by the sadness of the past few days.
There will also be a wake Thursday for the 33-year-old mother of two Jaime Taccetta, who was set to get married in October. Her funeral is being held on Saturday; she will be laid to rest in her wedding gown.
Relatives and friends are also mourning the loss of pharmacist Raymond Ferguson who was working Father’s Day, his day off, as a favor to his boss. A funeral mass for Ferguson is scheduled for Saturday at Our Lady Of Martyrs Church in Forest Hills.
Laffer’s wife, 29-year-old Melinda Brady, was charged with robbery for her involvement in the heist and obstruction.
As she was leaving Suffolk police headquarters early Thursday morning, Brady appeared to implicate her husband and apologized. “I’m sorry he did all of this,” she said.
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