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Army vet charged in L.I. pharmacy murder after 3-day manhunt


L.I Credit: Thomas A. Ferrera/Newsday

A drug-addicted U.S. Army vet from Long Island who recently was fired from his job was charged yesterday in the quadruple murder at a Medford pharmacy, police said Wednesday.

The intense three-day manhunt culminated in the arrest of David Laffer, 33, at 10 a.m. at his mother¹s home, where he lived with her and his wife, Melinda Brady, 29.

Laffer was charged with first-degree murder and resisting arrest. Brady faces third-degree robbery charges in connection with the execution-style shooting of pharmacist Raymond Ferguson, 45; employee Jennifer Mejia, 17; and customers Bryon Sheffield, 71, and Jaime Taccetta, 33, at Haven Drugs on Sunday.

You hear people say I hope they hang him, but I don¹t feel that because a life is a life. But I hope he never gets out, said Viedya Sabrina Quail-Ferguson, the victim¹s wife.

Laffer, who resisted arrest and was treated for minor injuries, is set to be arraigned in Central Islip court today. He is suspected of stealing about 10,000 hydrocodone pills from the pharmacy, located less than three miles from his home, to fuel the couple’s drug addiction.

Neighbors, however, were stunned.

“He was very nice,” said Trish Bohlert. “He was always outside playing with his nieces and nephews. He used to always say hello to us and stop and talk.”

Zaida Ayala, who said she¹s known Laffer since he was a boy, described him as “quiet, keeps to himself, cleans the yard, mows the lawn, never a word, never a curse. Totally shocking.”

After the shooting, Laffer returned home as if nothing happened, even doing yard work, a law enforcement source said.

Laffer was fired two weeks ago from his shipping clerk job at Cosa Instruments in Yaphank, after he was accused of trying to steal from anotheremployee, sources told Newsday, adding that he had worked there for about seven years.

Less than two days before the shooting, Laffer had applied for government assistance for the first time, according to a source with knowledge of the case file.The couple, who have no children, would have needed a household income of less than $18,948 to qualify for food stamps.

Joanna Martino, a close friend of Brady's, told the Daily News that last
weekend Brady complained that they had lost their health insurance and she “was trying to find out if anyone knew what hospital she can go to get a scrip for pain pills.”

Laffer served in the Army from 1994 until his discharge in 2002. He worked as an intelligence analyst and attained the rank of private first class before leaving, officials said.

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