Saturday 19 October 2019

Two bodies found after US stand-off

Gerald 'Skip' Murphy, 38, is seen in this photograph provided by the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office in Trenton (AP)
Gerald 'Skip' Murphy, 38, is seen in this photograph provided by the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office in Trenton (AP)
New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes, second left, listens as Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini Jr., answers a question (AP)

The bodies of a woman and her 13-year-old son were found after a days-long stand-off, and her boyfriend was killed, as officers stormed a New Jersey home to rescue three other children he had been holding captive, authorities said.

Police officers went to the home on Friday afternoon after reports that some of the children had not been to school in 12 days, authorities said on Sunday at a news conference. Officers entered the home through a rear door and smelled an odour consistent with that of a decomposing body, Trenton police director Ralph Rivera Jr said.

They found 38-year-old Gerald "Skip" 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 retreated from the second floor and rescued a 19-year-old man from the basement, who said he had not seen his mother or siblings since about April 24.

A Swat team was called in and an arson bomb unit also appeared 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 stand-off and passed food into the home through an upstairs window, state police colonel Rick Fuentes said.

Murphy kept the captives with him inside the bedroom throughout the stand-off, authorities said. Officers stormed the home at about 3.45am on Sunday after noting Murphy's "deteriorating state of mind" and deciding it was necessary to enter to help ensure the captives survived, Mr 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 stand-off or the confrontation with Murphy.

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 four-year-old boy - were rescued and taken to a medical centre for evaluation and treatment. Murphy had abused and assaulted the captives, Mr 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.

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