LEWISBORO, N.Y. – The Westchester County Medical Examiner’s Office completed autopsies on the Friedlander family who were found dead in their Cross River home Monday evening. But an acquaintance of Samuel Friedlander, who said she knew him well, believes there are still questions left unanswered. Police investigators said Friedlander, an attorney, 50, killed his wife, Amy, 46, and their two children, Molly, 10, and Gregory, 8, in an apparent murder-suicide. The couple was going through a bitter divorce.
However, Janet Paganelli, an attorney based in White Plains and longtime professional acquaintance of Samuel Friedlander, said she knew the couple was going through an unpleasant divorce and that Sam had asked her if she thought he seemed distracted.
“I think he was acting stressed,” she said. “He would mention what was going on, but he never explained details.”
The autopsy revealed that the cause of Amy Friedlander’s death was bludgeoning –investigators said they believe she was beaten with a table leg. The cause of death for Molly and Gregory was shotgun wounds to the upper torso. Samuel Friedlander died of a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head.
“I actually talked to Sam on Monday afternoon at around 2:30 or 3:30,” said Paganelli, who said she worked in the same office suite, two doors away from Friedlander for at least two years. “I called to get his input on a new case I was working on. He was watching a Webinar for continuing legal education. The only reason an attorney does that is to get his necessary credits to keep his license. That doesn’t sound like someone who is going to commit a murder or suicide. He told me Monday that he would call me tomorrow, which makes me think it wasn’t premeditated.”
Paganelli said it’s hard for her to imagine the man she knew murdering his children.
“Sam was an odd guy. Sometimes you’d have a conversation with him and you might joke around but he wouldn’t laugh. But I know he loved his kids. All the pictures you see are of him and his kids.”
Police said they continue to investigate how and where Samuel Friedlander obtained the gun. A search of the residence revealed that no other firearms were present in the home. Investigators are asking that anyone with further information relevant to the case should contact the State Police in Somers at 914-277-3177.