Trenton Hostage Standoff Comes To An End [VIDEO]
A standoff with 38-year-old Gerald Tyrone Murphy with multiple hostages inside a Trenton home ended after 37 hours early Sunday morning
New Jersey State Police Colonel Rick Fuentes says police entered the home around 4 a.m. on Sunday morning and fired a shot as Murphy made a "threatening move" towards one of the 3 children being held hostage.
Murphy was hospitalized and later died from his wounds.
Ralph Rivera, Trenton Police Director, says the standoff began when police responded to the Grand Street apartment on a report that two children who lived there had not been to school in 12 days. After finding the 19-year-old autistic son of 44-year-old Carmelita Stevens hiding in the basement, police learned he had not seen his mother or 13-year old brother since April 24.
Police entered the residence and found the decomposing bodies of the the two and an odor in the room consistent with that of death along with maggots. Murphy told police he was armed with guns and explosive with 3 children as hostages: a 4-year-old boy, a 14-year-old girl and an 18-year-old girl.
Murphy also sexually abused the two girls during the hostage standoff. Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph Boccini did not offer a motive for why Murphy would have killed Stevens and held the children hostage for so long.
Fuentes said, "“We did have evidence of a deteriorating state of mind that would lead him to more violence within the next 24 hours." Boccini added, "I have every reason to believe that the kids were in the room and were restrained for the two weeks."
Neighbors did not report any smells or unusual activity to police said Boccini.
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.
Children's Safety Of "Paramount Concern"
The safety of the children was "paramount" at all times said NJ State Police Colonel Rick Fuenetes, who added that water and food was able to be brought to the children.
"Our mission over the last 37 hours was to save innocent lives. For days the lives of three innocent individuals was put at risk by the presence of one individual," said Fuentes.
Murphy was not the father of any of the children.
No police officers were hurt in the standoff.
Word of the confrontation's conclusion came around 4 a.m. Sunday morning. Gunfirre and flash bomb could be heard at the standoff's conclusion in video aired by WCAU TV. Three ambulances wee seen leaving afterwards.
"The Trenton hostage situation is resolved, the three children are safe, and the area is secure," state police Sgt. Adam Grossman told The Associated Press, delivering a joint statement also from Trenton police and county prosecutors.
"Ongoing, Tense Situation"
A woman identifying herself as Tonya Kelly, the girlfriend's sister told WCAU, "They had a little misunderstanding and the guy killed her and my nephew,"
Earlier, state police Lt. Stephen Jones had described the standoff as an "ongoing, tense situation" and said police were working to "bring this to a peaceful end."
On Saturday, family members of a woman they said was among the hostages grew angry, with some of them going under police tape and briefly confronting officers about the situation.
"Do something! Do something!" screamed a man who said he was the woman's nephew. "Make something happen!"
Homes on the surrounding block had been evacuated as a precaution, and police tape cordoned off the street in front of the house and nearby. An ambulance was parked near the home but left the scene earlier Saturday.
Video courtesy Brian McCarthy, On Scene News
The Associated Press contributed to this report