Authorities in Edgewater, NJ made a grisly discovery on Christmas Day: the bodies of a 53-year-old man, his 49-year-old wife and their 8-year-old daughter were found in their apartment. And it's believed that the husband, Michael Stasko, killed his wife and daughter before turning the gun on himself.
The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office says that relatives called the police after the family hadn't arrived to Missouri for holiday celebrations; Stasko and wife Melissa weren't answering their cellphones. According to the Record, "Stasko was found with a gunshot wound under his chin, and his wife and daughter had been shot in the backs of their heads, [Prosecutor John] Molinelli said. The shootings could have occurred while the two were sleeping, as they were dressed in pajamas, and as long ago as Tuesday, on [daughter] Nellie’s eighth birthday, Molinelli said. Along with the bodies, police found a .45-caliber handgun with hollow-point bullets."
Molinelli also said that "Melissa and her daughter, both wearing their pajamas, appeared to have been cowering under the bedsheets as they were fatally shot in the back of their heads." The bodies were in the couple's bedroom, where a .45-caliber handgun with hollow-point bullets was recovered. The Post says a towel or blanket may have been used to muffle the sound of the shots.
Stasko ran a watch business from the apartment at Mariner's Tower. The business, Audemars M&M Inc., offered customized watches to groups, including the New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, NYC Detectives' Endowment Association, NYC Sergeants Benevolent Association, NYC Lieutenants Benevolent Association, NJ State Policemen's Benevolent Association and others. A motive for the killing is unclear; Molinelli said, "We don’t know whether it was financial, we don’t know whether it was familial, we don’t know really perhaps what was going through Mr. Stasko’s mind for him to do this."
He described the family's apartment as being "well-kept" and full of Christmas decorations: "You see some cards and holiday cards. It would appear from the 8-year-old's standpoint she very much loved her father."
Molinelli added, "I’m doing this 14 years and whenever you see an 8-year-old lying in a bed and she’s dead, we try to find answers right away and we will try to find answers on this one. It’s troubling.”