3 found dead in murder-suicide in New Jersey

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Counselors, psychologists and social workers plan to help New Jersey students cope with a murder-suicide that claimed the lives of a girl and her parents. (WPVI)

A New Jersey man shot and killed his wife and 8-year-old daughter before turning the gun on himself at a luxury high-rise apartment building, authorities said.

Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said the bodies of Michael Stasko, 53, his wife, Melissa, 49, and daughter, Mellie, 8, were found Friday night at the Windsor at Mariners Tower, an apartment building on the bank of the Hudson River in Edgewater.

According to The Record newspaper, Molinelli said at a news conference late Friday that Stasko was found with a gunshot wound under his chin, and his wife and daughter had been shot in the backs of their heads. The shootings could have happened as long ago as Dec. 22 or Dec. 23 while the two were sleeping.

Investigators also found a .45-caliber handgun with hollow-point bullets. A motive for the killings has not been determined.

"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," Molinelli said.

The newspaper reported that police discovered the bodies after receiving a call from Melissa Stasko's worried brother in Missouri, who told them that the family was expected to arrive there Friday afternoon to celebrate Christmas.

Molinelli said Stasko was a watch salesman, who operated his business out of his home. He described the family's apartment as "lovely and well kept," with neatly wrapped presents underneath a Christmas tree.

"You see some cards and holiday cards," Molinelli said. "It would appear from the 8-year-old's standpoint she very much loved her father."

Molinelli called the case "troubling."

"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," he said.

Counselors, psychologists and social workers plan to help students cope with the incident.

Edgewater school officials announced Saturday the counseling team will be in place when students return to school Jan. 4.

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Information from: The Record (Woodland Park, N.J.), http://www.northjersey.com

Related Topics:
n.j. newsmurder suicidehomicideshootingchild death
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