May 12, 2013

Two bodies found in N.J. standoff; suspect killed

Three people, including two teens and a 4-year-old, are reported safe after the three-day standoff ends early Sunday, but police said they found the bodies of a woman and her 13-year-old son.

The Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. — 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 Sunday.

Police officers went to the South Trenton home Friday afternoon after reports that some of the children hadn’t been to school in 12 days, authorities said at a Sunday news conference. Officers entered the home through a rear door and smelled an odor consistent with that of a decomposing body, authorities said.

They found 38-year-old Gerald Tyrone Murphy in an upstairs bedroom, and he told them he was armed with a gun and explosives and had three children with him, authorities said. Officers retreated from the second floor and rescued a 19-year-old man from the basement, who said he hadn’t seen his mother or 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.

The standoff ended at about 3:45 a.m. Sunday, 37 hours after it began, when officers stormed the house and shot Murphy because he was threatening one of the children, authorities said. Murphy was taken into custody and later died of his injuries.

Authorities found the bodies of 44-year-old Carmelita Stevens and her teenage son in separate bedrooms. The woman’s body was in an advanced state of decomposition, and police said she appeared to have died two weeks ago.

Three of her 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 and Stevens had been dating for a few months, police said. He was not the father of any of her children.

Police said Murphy was a registered sex offender with a long criminal history including convictions for aggravated assault and criminal conspiracy. 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.

click image to enlarge

A state police SWAT team member readies a robot to enter a home where a man had barricaded himself on Friday in Trenton, N.J.

The Associated Press

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