Noel Mohammed was the kind of man you could count on to crack a joke, help a stranger and tend to those in need.
The Huntington man worked as a postal carrier for 18 years, served as a Christian minister for more than a decade and ended many conversations the same way -- "Be blessed and stay blessed."
Known as someone who lived his beliefs daily, Mohammed, 44, also tried to help his stepson, Matthew Hubrins, break free of drugs and find the right path, a troubled relationship that turned tragic early Saturday morning, a family member and police said.
Hubrins, 28, was ordered held without bail Sunday when he was arraigned on charges of second-degree murder in First District Court in Central Islip. According to Suffolk County police, Hubrins fatally stabbed Mohammed as he lay in bed in his Spring Road house around 1:30 a.m.
The Mohammed family is struggling with a double tragedy, one that sent a beloved man to the grave and another to jail.
"Him being murdered, that's just the toughest thing to swallow," Mohammed's brother Chad Mohammed, 34, said. "I can accept any other way -- this right here, there's just no understanding for it."
Mohammed was deeply religious and lived his life in service to his faith.
"He is the prototype and the embodiment of what Jesus said about love thy neighbor as you would love yourself," his brother said.
Mohammed and Hubrins clashed over the years as the once-promising pianist fell into drug use and mental illness, Chad Mohammed said, serving as a family spokesman.
"It's been rocky, but it was never violent," he said. "My brother did everything that he possibly could to do right by his stepson."
No one believed things would turn deadly.
A prosecutor said Hubrins entered the house he shared with his sister, mother and stepfather, went to the kitchen, pulled out a knife, and walked into his mother and Mohammed's bedroom.
"As the stepfather was waking up, he plunged this kitchen knife into his chest," Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Todd Pettigrew said during Hubrins' arraignment.
Mohammed was pronounced dead at Huntington Hospital.
Hubrins' court-appointed attorney, Steve Fondulis, said his client is taking several prescription drugs related to mental illness, but he did not know specifics. His only income is from Social Security Disability payments, the Port Jefferson attorney said.
"Nobody knows why this happened," Fondulis said.
The descent into drugs is equally confounding to the family. It started about two years after Hubrins' mother, Doris, married Mohammed on Valentine's Day 2001, Chad Mohammed said. As the drugs took hold, Hubrins' demeanor changed.
"For me, Matthew died a long time ago," Chad Mohammed said. "This dude who killed my brother is not Matthew."