New York

Son Accused of Beating Mom, Sister, Friend to Death with Hammer, 1 Victim Escaped: Police

What to Know

  • A mother, her daughter and her daughter's friend were bludgeoned to death with a hammer in a house in Hempstead, police said.
  • A fourth victim was beaten but escaped and flagged down help, police said.
  • Bobby Vanderhall, the son and sister of two of the victims, is charged with the murders.

A man broke into his mother's house on Long Island early Saturday and bludgeoned her to death with a hammer, then did the same to his sister and his sister's friend, police said. 

Another friend was also beaten but able to escape, Nassau County police said. She ran outside and flagged someone down to call for help. 

Bobby Vanderhall, 34, had been kicked out of his mother's house and was homeless, Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick of Nassau County homicide said. 

"The family right now is distraught," said Juanita Johnson, a cousin of the Vanderhalls. "We in shock."

At around 1:15 a.m., he took a large hammer from the garage on Perry Street in Hempstead and broke through a basement door, Fitzpatrick said. Then he beat his mother, 58-year-old Lynn Vanderhall, to death in the kitchen, police said. 

He found his sister, 29-year-old Melissa Vanderhall, and one of Melissa's friends on the staircase and beat them with the hammer, Fitzpatrick said. That's when the friend escaped and went for help. 

He found the last victim, 29-year-old Janel Simpson, in an upstairs room. She also died from bludgeoning, Fitzpatrick said. 

The survivor, who wasn't identified, was hospitalized in stable condition. Police said she was also 29 years old. 

Denis Simpson said his daughter Janel Simpson had worked late as a secretary at Northwell Health and then went to her friend's house to hang out. 

He described his daughter and her friends as fun-loving women who went to Carnival in Trinidad and were planning to visit Cuba in the fall. 

"These girls don't give problems, these girls just have fun," Simpson said. 

Bobby Vanderhall, who police described as more than 6 feet tall and at least 230 pounds, was arrested within 2 miles of the house, police said. He was asleep in his car. 

He was charged with three counts of second-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. He was being held in Mineola and was scheduled for arraignment on Sunday. 

He had been arrested previously, including for DWI and sexual abuse, Fitzpatrick said.

It wasn't clear whether Bobby Vanderhall had an attorney.

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