Former UT volleyball star, mother, 3rd woman bludgeoned to death with hammer, police say

WCBS/Family photos/Candace Murray

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) — A man with a history of “emotional issues” used a hammer to bludgeon his mother, his sister and another woman to death in his Long Island home on Saturday, police said.

Bobby Vanderhall, 34, was arrested on three charges of murder in the early morning deaths of his mother, Lynn Reichenbach-Vanderhall; his sister, Melissa Vanderhall; and Janel Simpson, who was visiting the home.  His sister was an outside hitter for the University of Tampa’s volleyball team.  

Authorities said the three women were found dead inside the Vanderhall’s Hempstead, New York, home of “blunt force trauma” at about 2:15 a.m.

A fourth woman survived the assault and is hospitalized.

Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick, commanding officer of the Nassau County police homicide squad, told Newsday that Vanderhall’s mother had recently kicked him out of the house.

“When he came here last night and it looked like the doors were secured, he became enraged,” Fitzpatrick said. “He went to the garage. He obtained a large hammer. … With this framing hammer, he broke through the basement door.”

Police said Vanderhall then found his mother in the living room and started to bludgeon her with the hammer. They said he then attacked the other women. The three victims were pronounced dead at the scene.

Fitzpatrick said Vanderhall had a history of “emotional issues” and had on two occasions been taken from his mother’s home to a medical center.

Authorities said Vanderhall’s behavior had become more troubling recently, leading his mother to obtain an order of protection against him.

Vanderhall has pleaded not guilty to murder. He is being held without bail after his arraignment Sunday.

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