In a gruesome scene seemingly straight out of a Halloween horror movie, a man beheaded his mother Tuesday night, dragged her body out of her Long Island, New York, apartment, and kicked her severed head down the street before jumping to his death in front of a moving train.
Derek Ward, 35, killed his mother Patricia, a 66-year-old professor, and then committed suicide, according to the Associated Press. He had a history of psychiatric problems.
“I looked through my window and saw the body down there,” neighbor Nick Gordon told the New York Post. “I saw the lady laying right there in front, and her head was across the street I thought, ‘Holy s—!’ ”
According to the Post, many neighbors initially believed the body they saw in the street was part of a Halloween prank – until they touched it.
“I saw a head on the ground. And then I saw a body without a head,” Jack Imperial, 41, who lives in Queens, tells PEOPLE. “It looked like it was a Halloween prank. I figured it was a hoax. I just hoped it was a hoax. It looked real.”
NBC New York reported Wednesday that the deaths were being investigated as a murder-suicide.
Ward’s body was struck by a moving Long Island Rail Road train roughly 1,000 feet from his mother’s Farmingdale, New York, home, according to the AP.
“There was blood all over the floor,” Gordon told the Post of the tragic scene. “You can see smears going down the stairs as if somebody were pulling a body.”
• With reporting by CAITLIN KEATING