On Monday night in Cross River, New York, Sam Friedlander beat his wife to death with a table leg, shot their two young children in their beds, then turned the gun on himself. It's an incredibly horrific crime, and you might be feeling pretty bad for the wife and the two kids right now — but first, you should consider all the facts. You see, according to Friedlander's friends, his wife was an emasculating bitch, and that's probably what drove him to murder his entire family.
The Journal News, a local Westchester newspaper, put together an article that should go down in the annals of victim blaming. In the lengthy piece, the only comment about who Amy Friedlander was comes from a statement posted on the website of her tutoring service. Her business partner Deborah Bernstein wrote:
"We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Amy Friedlander and her children Molly and Gregory. Amy was not only a business partner but a personal friend and loving mother. She will be truly missed by us and the community at large."
The article notes that Gregory was 8 and Molly was 10, and they both attended Lewisboro Elementary School.
As for Sam Friedlander, there are three sources that tell lengthy tales about his great love for his family and the years of emotional abuse he allegedly suffered. Michael Borg, a friend from law school, says, "I have heard from him the abuse she put him through in terms of belittling and emasculating him in front of the kids and in front of friends." And there's plenty more hearsay where that came from! The Friedlanders were going through a divorce, but were still living together. Though Borg admits that it doesn't quite justify shooting your children in their bedrooms, he notes that sometimes Amy was pretty mean to Sam:
"I can't make excuses for what he did, but I know something must have snapped in him," Borg said. "It must have been a living hell in that house."
She once prevented him from visiting their daughter during camp visiting day, he said, and, when Borg invited the family to Passover in the spring, she "poisoned the minds" of the children so Sam Friedlander had to go alone.
"The Sam I knew for 30 years was not the Sam who pulled the trigger on them," Borg said. "Sam was the most gentle, unassuming, mellow individual you would ever want to meet."
Clearly the only reason Amy and the kids didn't want to go to Borg's for passover is that she'd "poisoned" them against him. After all, that's how Sam assessed the situation when he was angrily recapping a fight that left him celebrating the holiday without his family.
But Amy wasn't the only problem in their relationship. Her parents were also total jerks who never really liked the guy who eventually killed their daughter.
"She was never able to cut the umbillcal cord with them," Borg said. "They would be visiting Sam in Cross River and would completely usurp his authority and walk all over him."
David Pine, another friend from law school who hadn't seen Friedlander since last year, adds:
"He looked like an emotionally beaten man," said Pine, 49, of New Jersey. "There came a point in time when he isolated himself from his friends. He went into his own cocoon and we weren't able to get through to him."
"I saw a guy emotionally abused over time," Pine said. "We always hear of domestic violence against women, but there's also emotional domestic violence against men. He was showing all the classic signs of being emotionally abused." ...
"He could have left the situation, but he didn't," Pine added. "He stayed in the house because of the kids. He wanted to be in their lives, yet he was subject to all the verbal and emotional abuse.
"I can't put a handle on why he would take the lives of his kids," he continued, "but whatever it was was a result of years of emotional torment that he must have (gone) through in that household."
Are men sometimes abused by their wives? Absolutely. But no matter how nasty Amy might have been, that doesn't make the guy who murdered his wife and children the real victim here.
People usually blame the other spouse when they're getting a divorce, and all we hear in the article is Sam's version of events. Amy can't defend herself now, and The Journal News didn't bother include interviews with her friends. Pine diagnosed Sam as suffering from "classic signs" of emotional abuse. Perhaps Amy's friend would point out that it's common for male abusers to paint their wives as emasculating harpies to downplay what they're doing to them. At this point, there's no solid evidence that either Amy or Sam was abusive. The only thing we do know is that that Sam murdered his family, and nothing Amy, Molly, or Gregory said justifies that.