A Hudson Valley great-grandfather was fatally stabbed. His alleged killer just had a murder charge dropped.

On Thursday, Nov. 3, 22-year-old Horace Duke for Wallkill was arraigned in Orange County Court on an indictment charging him with manslaughter in the first degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth-degree degree.

Wallkill, New York Man Accused Of Killing Orange County Great-Grandfather


The indictment comes after the fatal stabbing of a 74-year-old man during what appeared to be a road rage incident on October 20, 2022.

Duke was remanded to the Orange County Jail in lieu of $100,000 cash bail, $500,000 bond or $750,00 partially secured bond.

It's alleged that Duke was involved in a car accident with the victim, 74-year-old Joel Laddy of the Town of Wallkill. After the crash, a verbal argument escalated near exit 119 on Route 17 in the Town of Wallkill.

During the course of the argument, Duke stabbed the Laddy once in the chest with a kitchen knife, puncturing the victim’s heart, officials say.

Grandfather Has Ties To Wallkill, Middletown, Wappinger Falls, Montgomery

Applebee McPhillips Funeral Home
Applebee McPhillips Funeral Home

Laddy later died from his injuries. Laddy was born in New Jersey but has been an "upstate NY resident for the past 35 years," according to his obituary.

"Joel's love for his motorcycles, antique cars and being a pilot where he flew out of Orange County airport were just some of his passions. He was a daily gym goer at Crunch Fitness in Middletown and loved to meet daily with his friends for coffee. His fun-loving spirit will be missed by many. Joel was truly the last of a dying breed," his obituary states.

Many of Laddy's children live in the Hudson Valley, including Middletown, New York and Wappinger Falls, New York. He has 18 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He was a retired truck driver from Yellow Freight in Montgomery, New York.

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“Violence is never the solution to petty disputes or arguments,” Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler said. . “The senseless loss of life in this case, which is as tragic as it is preventable, highlights the danger posed by road rage. Justice demands that those who engage in dangerous and deadly behavior face consequences for their actions. My deepest condolences go out to the family and loved ones of the victim in this incident.”

Alleged Killer Found Outside Middletown, New York Business


An investigation conducted by the Town of Wallkill Police Department, New York State Police and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office resulted in Duke’s arrest. Duke was found and arrested in front of a store located at 2468 Route 302 in Middletown.

Murder Charge Dropped

Duke was initially charged with murder in the second degree. The case was presented to an Orange County Grand Jury and the murder charge was dropped.

The Orange County Grand Jury charged Duke with manslaughter. Orange County officials have not released why the murder charge was dropped, but Hudson Valley Post was told witnesses claim the fatal stabbing was in self-defense.

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