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2 bodies found after New Jersey standoff; suspect killed

  • Gerald "Skip" Murphy,  38,  is seen in this photograph provided by the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office in Trenton, N.J., Sunday, May 12, 2013. Three children are safe after a 36-hour standoff with Murphy, who was armed, ended early Sunday, in Trenton, N.J., state law enforcement officials said. Murphy was killed during the rescue, officials said. But the bodies of a woman, presumed to be homeowner Carmelita Stevens, 44 -- the mother of the children -- and a young boy, presumed to be her 13-year-old son, were found decomposing in the home. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    Gerald "Skip" Murphy, 38, is seen in this photograph provided by the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office in Trenton, N.J., Sunday, May 12, 2013. Three children are safe after a 36-hour standoff with Murphy, who was armed, ended early Sunday, in Trenton, N.J., state law enforcement officials said. Murphy was killed during the rescue, officials said. But the bodies of a woman, presumed to be homeowner Carmelita Stevens, 44 -- the mother of the children -- and a young boy, presumed to be her 13-year-old son, were found decomposing in the home. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

  • Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini Jr., left, and Trenton Police Director Ralph Rivera Jr., right, listen in Trenton, N.J., Sunday, May 12, 2013, as New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes answers a question after announcing that Gerald Tyrone Murphy, 38, had been shot by police and later died after a standoff with police. Three children held by Murphy are safe after a 36-hour standoff in Trenton ended early Sunday. Fuentes said officers made an entry into the room where the hostages were being held, and a single shot was fired at the suspect as he made a violent move toward one of the children. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini Jr., left, and Trenton Police Director Ralph Rivera Jr., right, listen in Trenton, N.J., Sunday, May 12, 2013, as New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes answers a question after announcing that Gerald Tyrone Murphy, 38, had been shot by police and later died after a standoff with police. Three children held by Murphy are safe after a 36-hour standoff in Trenton ended early Sunday. Fuentes said officers made an entry into the room where the hostages were being held, and a single shot was fired at the suspect as he made a violent move toward one of the children. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

  • New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes answers a question in Trenton, N.J., Sunday, May 12, 2013, after announcing that Gerald Tyrone Murphy, 38, who also goes by the name Skip, had been shot by police and later died after a standoff with police. Three children held by Murphy are safe after a 36-hour standoff in Trenton ended early Sunday. Fuentes said officers made an entry into the room where the hostages were being held, and a single shot was fired at the suspect as he made a violent move toward one of the children. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes answers a question in Trenton, N.J., Sunday, May 12, 2013, after announcing that Gerald Tyrone Murphy, 38, who also goes by the name Skip, had been shot by police and later died after a standoff with police. Three children held by Murphy are safe after a 36-hour standoff in Trenton ended early Sunday. Fuentes said officers made an entry into the room where the hostages were being held, and a single shot was fired at the suspect as he made a violent move toward one of the children. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

  • New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes, left, and Trenton Police Director Ralph Rivera Jr., right,, listen in Trenton, N.J., Sunday, May 12, 2013, as Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini Jr., answers a question  after announcing that Gerald Tyrone Murphy, 38, who is also known as Skip, had been shot by police and later died after a standoff with police. Three children held by Murphy are safe after a 36-hour standoff in Trenton ended early Sunday. Fuentes said officers made an entry into the room where the hostages were being held, and a single shot was fired at the suspect as he made a violent move toward one of the children. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes, left, and Trenton Police Director Ralph Rivera Jr., right,, listen in Trenton, N.J., Sunday, May 12, 2013, as Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini Jr., answers a question after announcing that Gerald Tyrone Murphy, 38, who is also known as Skip, had been shot by police and later died after a standoff with police. Three children held by Murphy are safe after a 36-hour standoff in Trenton ended early Sunday. Fuentes said officers made an entry into the room where the hostages were being held, and a single shot was fired at the suspect as he made a violent move toward one of the children. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

  • New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes, second left, listens in Trenton, N.J., Sunday, May 12, 2013, as Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini Jr., answers a question after announcing that Gerald Tyrone Murphy, 38, also known as Gerald "Skip" Murphy, had been shot by police and later died after a standoff with police. Three children held by Murphy are safe after a 36-hour standoff in Trenton ended early Sunday. Fuentes said officers made an entry into the room where the hostages were being held and an officer shot Murphy because he was threatening one of the children. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes, second left, listens in Trenton, N.J., Sunday, May 12, 2013, as Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini Jr., answers a question after announcing that Gerald Tyrone Murphy, 38, also known as Gerald "Skip" Murphy, had been shot by police and later died after a standoff with police. Three children held by Murphy are safe after a 36-hour standoff in Trenton ended early Sunday. Fuentes said officers made an entry into the room where the hostages were being held and an officer shot Murphy because he was threatening one of the children. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

  • Gerald "Skip" Murphy,  38,  is seen in this photograph provided by the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office in Trenton, N.J., Sunday, May 12, 2013. Three children are safe after a 36-hour standoff with Murphy, who was armed, ended early Sunday, in Trenton, N.J., state law enforcement officials said. Murphy was killed during the rescue, officials said. But the bodies of a woman, presumed to be homeowner Carmelita Stevens, 44 -- the mother of the children -- and a young boy, presumed to be her 13-year-old son, were found decomposing in the home. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
  • Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini Jr., left, and Trenton Police Director Ralph Rivera Jr., right, listen in Trenton, N.J., Sunday, May 12, 2013, as New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes answers a question after announcing that Gerald Tyrone Murphy, 38, had been shot by police and later died after a standoff with police. Three children held by Murphy are safe after a 36-hour standoff in Trenton ended early Sunday. Fuentes said officers made an entry into the room where the hostages were being held, and a single shot was fired at the suspect as he made a violent move toward one of the children. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
  • New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes answers a question in Trenton, N.J., Sunday, May 12, 2013, after announcing that Gerald Tyrone Murphy, 38, who also goes by the name Skip, had been shot by police and later died after a standoff with police. Three children held by Murphy are safe after a 36-hour standoff in Trenton ended early Sunday. Fuentes said officers made an entry into the room where the hostages were being held, and a single shot was fired at the suspect as he made a violent move toward one of the children. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
  • New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes, left, and Trenton Police Director Ralph Rivera Jr., right,, listen in Trenton, N.J., Sunday, May 12, 2013, as Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini Jr., answers a question  after announcing that Gerald Tyrone Murphy, 38, who is also known as Skip, had been shot by police and later died after a standoff with police. Three children held by Murphy are safe after a 36-hour standoff in Trenton ended early Sunday. Fuentes said officers made an entry into the room where the hostages were being held, and a single shot was fired at the suspect as he made a violent move toward one of the children. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
  • New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes, second left, listens in Trenton, N.J., Sunday, May 12, 2013, as Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini Jr., answers a question after announcing that Gerald Tyrone Murphy, 38, also known as Gerald "Skip" Murphy, had been shot by police and later died after a standoff with police. Three children held by Murphy are safe after a 36-hour standoff in Trenton ended early Sunday. Fuentes said officers made an entry into the room where the hostages were being held and an officer shot Murphy because he was threatening one of the children. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

The police stormed a New Jersey home early yesterday 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, N.J., on 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 yesterday. Upon further investigation, authorities then discovered her children hadn’t been to school in 12 days.

The 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 Bocchini Jr. said. Officers noticed one of the dead victims before they retreated from the second floor and rescued Stevens’s 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. The police said Murphy could be seen from a window holding a black handgun.

The 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, authorities said.

As the standoff stretched into a third day, officers entered the home about 3:45 a.m. yesterday 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 lives.”

Authorities found the bodies of Stevens and her 13-year-old son in separate bedrooms. Stevens’s body was in an advanced state of decomposition, and the police said she and her son may have been killed two weeks ago. The police didn’t say which of the bodies they had seen inside the home Friday afternoon.

Three of Stevens’s 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, the 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 the residence.

Attempts to contact the victims’ relatives and neighbors were unsuccessful yesterday.

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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