The standoff began on Friday as police responded to a missing persons report for 44-year-old Trenton resident Carmelita Stevens.
Stevens hadn't been heard from in weeks. Police also discovered her children hadn't been to school in 12 days.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nearby homes were evacuated for fear that Murphy may have actually had explosives.
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.
Murphy began threatening the children. A single shot was fired. He was hit, later dying of his injuries at the hospital.
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.
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.
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.
The three children who were rescued are being treated and evaluated. Police say Murphy had abused them while they were held captive.
Gavon Laessig is a deputy news director and front page editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Gavon Laessig at email@example.com.
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