NJ police shoot sex offender who imprisoned kids, killed their Mom & brother
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Police stormed a New Jersey home early Sunday
and fatally shot a registered sex offender who had held his girlfriend's
three children hostage, ending their 37-hour ordeal and recovering the
bodies of the captives' mother and another sibling, authorities said.
Officers initially went to the home in South
Trenton Friday afternoon after a relative of 44-year-old Carmelita
Stevens said she hadn't spoken to her in weeks and was worried,
authorities said at a news conference Sunday. Upon further
investigation, authorities then discovered her children hadn't been to
school in 12 days.
Police entered the home through a rear door and
smelled an odor consistent with that of a decomposing body, Trenton
Police Director Ralph Rivera Jr. said. The officers also noticed maggots
throughout the residence.
They found 38-year-old Gerald "Skip" Tyrone Murphy
in an upstairs bedroom and he told them he was armed with a gun and
explosives and had three children with him, Mercer County Prosecutor
Joseph L. Bocchini Jr. said. Officers noticed one of the dead victims
before they retreated from the second floor and rescued Stevens'
19-year-old son from the basement, who said he hadn't seen her or his
siblings since about April 24.
Homes on the surrounding block were evacuated as a
precaution, and police tape cordoned off the street in front of the
house. A SWAT team was called, and an arson bomb unit was also on the
scene. Police said Murphy could be seen from a window holding a black
Police remained in contact with Murphy throughout
the standoff and passed food into the home through an upstairs window,
state police Col. Rick Fuentes said. Murphy kept the captives with him
inside the roughly 10-foot-by-11-foot bedroom throughout the standoff,
As the standoff stretched into a third day,
officers entered the home around 3:45 a.m. Sunday after noting Murphy's
"deteriorating state of mind" and deciding it was necessary to enter to
help ensure the captives survived, Fuentes said. An officer shot Murphy
because he was threatening one of the children, he said.
Murphy was taken to a hospital and later died of
his injuries. No law enforcement personnel were injured during the
standoff or the confrontation with Murphy.
"This was a very complex matter, considering the
space (where the hostages were) and that three children were involved,"
Fuentes said. "Our mission over those 37 hours was to save innocent
Authorities found the bodies of Stevens and her
13-year-old son in separate bedrooms. Stevens' body was in an advanced
state of decomposition, and police said she and her son may have been
killed two weeks ago. Police didn't say which of the bodies they had
seen inside the home Friday afternoon.
Three of Stevens' children - an 18-year-old woman, a
16-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy - were rescued and taken to a
medical center for evaluation and treatment. Murphy had abused and
assaulted the captives, Bocchini said.
Murphy and Stevens had been dating for a few
months, and both lived in the house, police said. He was not the father
of any of her children.
Authorities wouldn't comment on a possible motive
or say how the victims died, citing the ongoing investigation. They also
would not say whether any bombs or other explosives were recovered at
Attempts to contact the victims' relatives and neighbors were unsuccessful on Sunday.
Murphy had a long criminal history including
convictions for aggravated assault and criminal conspiracy, Bocchini
said. He had previously been arrested for robbery and weapons offenses
and child endangerment. He also had an arrest warrant in Pennsylvania
for failing to register as a sex offender.
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