Officials find bodies of NJ standoff victims; suspect killed
The bodies of a woman and her 13-year-old son were found after a dayslong standoff, and her boyfriend was killed as officers stormed the home to rescue three other children he had been holding captive, authorities said today.
Police officers initially went to the South Trenton home 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 today. Upon further investigation, authorities then discovered her children hadn’t been to school in 12 days.
Officers 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 handgun.
Police remained in contact with Murphy throughout the 37-hour-long 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, authorities said.
Officers stormed the home at around 3:45 a.m. today 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.