Hostage Crisis In New Jersey Ends With Gruesome Discovery

A 37-hour standoff in Trenton, New Jersey ended after police shot and killed the hostage taker. The decomposing bodies of a woman and her son were found at the scene.

1. The standoff began on Friday as police responded to a missing persons report for 44-year-old Trenton resident Carmelita Stevens.

ID: 1163732

2. Stevens hadn’t been heard from in weeks. Police also discovered her children hadn’t been to school in 12 days.

ID: 1163731

3. When there was no response at the door, police broke into Stevens’ house. They were immediately confronted by the stench of rotting flesh and saw maggots throughout the home.

ID: 1163738

4. Police discovered someone barricaded in an upststairs room of the residence, later identified as this man, 38-year-old Gerald “Skip” Murphy. Murphy claimed to be armed with explosives and was holding three children hostage in the room.

/ AP
ID: 1163740

5. As police retreated from the home, they found a decomposing body. They also rescued Stevens’ 19-year-old son, who was being held captive in the basement of the house.

ID: 1163734

6. A tense standoff ensued as police negotiated with Murphy to surrender and release the children. Food and water was delivered to the hostages through the bedroom window.

Scott Ketterer / AP
ID: 1163730

7. Nearby homes were evacuated for fear that Murphy may have actually had explosives.

ID: 1163737

8. Over the course of the negotiations, police became increasingly concerned with Murphy’s “deteriorating state of mind.” Early Sunday morning, at 3:45 a.m., they stormed the room.

ID: 1163811

9. Murphy began threatening the children. A single shot was fired. He was hit, later dying of his injuries at the hospital.

ID: 1163736

10. Police rescued the three captives, all of them Stevens’ children — an 18-year-old girl, a 16-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy.

ID: 1163735

11. The bodies of Stevens and her teenage son were discovered. Stevens’ body was in an advanced state of decomposition, with police estimating she had been dead for two weeks. It is unclear which of the bodies police discovered on Friday.

ID: 1163739

12. It is still unclear what triggered Murphy. He had been dating and living with Stevens prior to the incident. Murphy had a long criminal history, including an arrest warrant for failing to register as a sex offender.

ID: 1163881

13. The three children who were rescued are being treated and evaluated. Police say Murphy had abused them while they were held captive.

ID: 1163880

Based on reports from NBC News and the AP.

ID: 1163921

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Gavon Laessig is a deputy news director and front page editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Gavon Laessig at

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