TRENTON, N.J. — A registered sex offender who barricaded himself for days in a home with his girlfriend’s three children was shot to death Sunday as police rescued the captives and recovered the bodies of their mother and another sibling, authorities said.
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 Sunday. 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.
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. Sunday after noting Murphy’s “deteriorating state of mind,” 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.
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 appeared to have died two weeks ago.
Authorities wouldn’t comment on a possible motive or say how the victims died, citing the ongoing investigation.