US & Canada

Two bodies found after New Jersey hostage stand-off

Gerald Murphy
Image caption Gerald "Skip" Murphy took three people hostage for at least 37 hours

US police have ended a 37-hour-long stand-off with an armed 38-year-old man who took three people hostage in a house in New Jersey, authorities say.

Gerald Murphy, who had barricaded himself and three children inside a house in Trenton since Friday, died from a fatal bullet wound.

The bodies of a woman and her 13-year-old son were found inside the house.

Police said they stormed the house early on Sunday morning after noting Murphy's "deteriorating state of mind".

Police initially went to the home after the 19-year-old son of Carmelita Stevens, 44, told the authorities he had not seen his mother or sisters since the end of last month, Trenton Police Director Ralph Rivera said.

When police officers entered the home on Friday, they noticed an odour consistent with that of a decomposing body, he added.

They pulled back on finding Gerald "Skip" Murphy, who said he was armed with a gun and explosives and had three unidentified people with him - a 16-year-old girl, a four-year-old boy and a woman aged 18.

Hostage negotiators remained in contact with Murphy throughout the standoff, passing food and water through an upper window of the two-storey house, New Jersey State Police Colonel Rick Fuentes said on Sunday morning.

Police stormed the house at 03:45 local time (08:45 GMT) and an officer fired a single shot at Murphy, who was taken to hospital and later died of his injuries.

The body of Carmelita Stevens, Murphy's girlfriend, was found in a state of decomposition. She is believed to have died two weeks ago, police said.

Police confirmed that Murphy was not the father of any of the children rescued.

He had an extensive criminal record including previous convictions for robbery, weapons offences and child endangerment, according to Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph Boccini.