David Laffer was on file as a customer of the Medford pharmacy where he allegedly gunned down four people Sunday with his registered .45-caliber handgun while disguising himself with a fake beard, and was high on drugs when he was apprehended 72 hours later, authorities said Thursday.
Suffolk County officials released those and other details around the time the 33-year-old suspect and his wife—who told reporters her husband did it for her—were due to make their initial court appearance. Police said the suspected gunman made off with a backpack full of prescription medication during the Father’s Day massacre.
“This heinous crime stretched far beyond the community of Medford,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said during a news conference. “Each one of us can relate to this tragedy.”
He said Laffer, an unemployed Army veteran, has neither been cooperating with detectives nor shown remorse for the killings, unlike his wife, 29-year-old Melinda Brady, who allegedly acted as the getaway driver. Dormer declined to discuss her cooperation with investigators in detail, but she made a stunning statement to the media outside police headquarters in Yaphank hours earlier.
“He was doing it because he lost his job and I was sick,” Brady told reporters. “He did it. He did all of this.”
She was taken to St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown for an unspecified medical condition. Laffer too was briefly hospitalized after being taken into custody.
Laffer pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, punishable by up to life in prison, and resisting arrest. Brady was charged with robbery, for allegedly driving Laffer to and from the crime scene, and obstructing government administration, after police said she tried to prevent officers from arresting her husband.
Laffer was ordered held without bail. It was not immediately clear when Brady will be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip.
Prosecutors said Laffer first shot 17-year-old Jennifer Mejia of East Patchogue, an assistant pharmacist, without warning. He then allegedly turned the gun on the pharmacist, Raymond Ferguson, 45, of Centereach, killing him.
While running out of the store with a backpack full of pills he stole, Laffer then allegedly shot and killed two customers, 71-year-old Bryon Sheffield of Medford, and Jamie Taccetta, 33, of Farmingville, prosecutors said.
Assistant District Attorney John Collins called the case “the most cold-blooded robbery-homicide in Suffolk County history.” He added that investigators found Laffer’s fingerprint on a piece of paper on the floor inside the pharmacy.
Dormer said police seized the weapon used in the crime, numerous other weapons and a cache of ammunition during the raid on the Pitchpine Place home where they lived with Laffer’s mother, Pam. He did not elaborate on the type of weapons or other evidence seized.
Additional charges are pending once a Suffolk County grand jury reviews the case.
Jim Fegel, Taccetta’s uncle, shouted at Laffer in the crowded courtroom: “You’re a coward for what you did to those families!”
-With Associated Press