Sweet, friendly and all too eager to please -- that's how some who knew Melinda Brady described the woman police say drove the getaway car in Sunday's deadly Medford pharmacy holdup.
Some who grew up with Brady, 29, said Thursday that they were struggling to understand how the quiet loner they remember from Sayville High School could have gotten involved in a drug-related killing that left four people dead.
"The Melinda I did know, she was not a pill popper," said Allie Bates, 29, of Riverhead, who said she was close friends with Brady during high school and reconnected with her via Facebook shortly after her marriage to accused shooter David Laffer.
But others who met Brady and her husband more recently, through Laffer's participation in amateur street hockey leagues, said Brady talked openly and often about the painkillers she took to control severe discomfort from tooth surgery and stomach ailments.
Still unclear is what propelled Brady from the manicured West Sayville neighborhood where she grew up to the St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center bed where she awaits arraignment on charges of robbery and obstructing government administration.
"I don't think she was ever in a lick of trouble," said schoolmate Peter Regan, 29, of Sayville.
"She was a sweetheart," Regan said. "She was eager to be friends with people. If you were to talk to her, she would keep it going."
Regan and Bates said Brady had trouble fitting in. "Kids are cruel," Bates said. "There was teasing behind her back."
Brady graduated from Sayville High School in 2000 and enrolled at Suffolk County Community College in the fall of 2001, according to district and college officials. A neighbor said she worked for a time at the Sun-Vet Mall in Holbrook.
Kim Fazzi of Charlotte, N.C., said she and Melinda Brady used to hang out about seven years ago, when Fazzi still lived in New York. She said Brady liked to go out dancing and drinking, and described her as fun, but clingy and eager for attention. "She would call me all day," Fazzi said. "I wound up getting caller ID because of her."
Brady met Laffer through mutual friends, according to their 2009 wedding announcement. It was an event whose planning she chronicled exhaustively through posts on message boards on the local wedding Web site liweddings.com.
Other posts referred to chronic dental problems and oral surgery for which she was prescribed painkillers.
"I only take it if I really have to. I really hate taking them," she posted in June 2008.
That's around the time that Wilson and his employees said Brady and Laffer had been frequenting his Farmingdale rink.
Street hockey acquaintances said Brady would wait for hours on end as Laffer played match after match.
Those acquaintances said the Laffers faded away from their circle, first moving from league to league, until he abruptly quit a Bethpage team at the beginning of this year. "We just never saw them again," Wilson said.