Carmenlita Stevens, the mother of five children, from ages four to 18, had been missing from her Trenton, NJ home for two weeks. But it wasn't until last week that NJ school officials called her cousin to say that Stevens' children hadn't been in school for 12 days. The cousin, Sonja Kelly, contacted the police on Friday, and she and cops found a horrifying situation: The overpowering stench of death. It turned out the smell was from the decomposing bodies of Stevens and her 13-year-old son—and her boyfriend Gerald Tyrone Murphy was holding the other four children hostage.
Murphy held the children hostage for 37 hours until police stormed the home with a flash-bang grenade. The children were rescued and Murphy, a convicted sex offender, was killed in the process. The Trenton police, who worked with the FBI and other agencies, said, "Following our entry, a single shot was fired by our entry team to stop a threatening action against one of the children by Murphy." According to the Star-Ledger:
A mother’s dead body decayed before the eyes of three of her children who were held hostage inside a 10-foot-by-11-foot bedroom for nearly two weeks by the live-in boyfriend who killed her, authorities said today.
Down the hall throughout the entire ordeal, another body festered, likely the body of the woman’s teenage son. Maggots and a rotting smell soon took over the home.
Throughout this hell, the 18-year-old and 16-year-old girls in the room were abused and assaulted by their captor, 38-year-old registered sex offender Gerald T. Murphy, who kept them and later police at bay with a gun and threats, authorities said. Their 19-year-old brother was kept in the basement from the time of the murders until Friday afternoon, when police rescued him during their initial entry, officials said.
Also in the room with the girls was their four-year-old brother. The 19-year-old brother, Jovan, is described as autistic and aunt Sonja Kelly says he told her that Murphy was "nice on the outside and mean on the inside" and a "monster." Kelly believes that Murphy was able to convince her nephew that his mother was still alive by moving Stevens' car around. She also said that Jovan survived by eating bacon grease.
Investigators think that Murphy killed Stevens and her 13-year-old son Quavon two weeks ago. Kelly, who says that Stevens wanted to break up with Murphy because he was becoming unpredictable, said Quavon must have been killed while trying to defend his mother, "He was going to be our star in the family. He was going to play basketball so good. He loved his mom, and that’s how he died.”