pharmacy killer David Laffer
© Andrew Theodorakis/News'He looked like death,' said one neighbor of David Laffer, who is seen being taken to Brookhaven Hospital Wednesday after his arrest in Long Island bloodbath.
David Laffer's life began falling apart two weeks ago.

The former Army private, who worked for years as a shipping clerk at scale manufacturer Cosa Xentaur in Yaphank, L.I., was fired, reportedly for stealing.

That meant no more health insurance - and no more prescription pills.

The loss of health coverage was a blow, said Joanna Martino, a one-time friend of Laffer's pill-popping wife, Melinda Brady.

"This past weekend, Melinda was trying to find out if anyone knew what hospital she can go to to get a 'scrip for pain pills," Martino said.

There were other signs of desperation: Laffer, who'd had minor tax judgments against him in the past, signed up for food stamps Friday, Newsday reported.

As Laffer and his wife were taken away in handcuffs Wednesday, those who knew them struggled to understand how he could have fallen so far.

David Laffer lived with Melinda and his mother, Pam, in the comfortable two-story home where he grew up. His father, Gary, died of a heart attack in 1996. Both his parents were teachers, as is his sister Tara.

Laffer graduated from Patchogue-Medford High School in 1995 and went into the Army, where he was an intelligence analyst, the Pentagon said. He was discharged in April 2002 as a private first class.

His Facebook page identifies two interests: the Springfield XD semi-automatic pistol, and Defining Shots, a photo studio in Commack.

In a 2009 Daily News wedding announcement, Laffer said he met his wife at dinner with mutual friends in 2005.

A big hockey fan, he proposed in grand style at an Islanders game, asking Brady to marry him at Nassau Coliseum.

"The question appeared up on the score board. It said, Melinda, will you marry me? Love David.' I was shocked and surprised. I was so happy," she said in another announcement.

Since he is Jewish and she is Christian, they had an interfaith ceremony that included traditions from both religions.

In a comment he posted under their online wedding announcement, Laffer joked about how he hated Brady's dog, Max.

"Max needs to be 'accidentally misplaced' somewhere outside of North Dakota. As I am typing this, Melinda is constantly saying that I am mean. That does not change the fact, I hate her dog. But, I love my wife."

Laffer was described by neighbors as a quiet and inoffensive man.

"It can't be him. It just can't be. This is a nightmare," said Ziada Ayala, his next-door neighbor on the street of manicured lawns and pools.

His uncle, Alan Laffer, once a senior salesman for painkiller maker Endo Pharmaceuticals, said he'd been out of touch for several years.

"I love my nephew to death but I don't see him very much," he said. "It just totally stuns me."