EDGEWATER, N.J. -- An Edgewater man shot his wife and 8-year-old daughter in the back of their heads, then turned the gun on himself in their luxury high-rise on the Hudson River sometime Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said late Friday.
Melissa Stasko, 49, and her daughter, Nellie, were in a bed when Michael Stasko, 52, shot them dead with a .45-caliber handgun loaded with hollow-point bullets, Molinelli told reporters outside the Windsor at Mariners complex at the foot of Dempsey Avenue just before midnight.
Its barrel was wrapped in a cloth, which likely partially muffled the sound of the gunshots, he said.
Police got a call just after 7 p.m. Friday from Melissa Stasko's concerned brother in Missouri, who said "his sister and her family were to have arrived approximately 1 o'clock today" for Christmas and weren't answering their cellphones, the prosecutor said late Friday.
The building superintendent let police in to the family's 17th-floor unit, he said.
Investigators found presents still neatly arranged beneath a Christmas tree, the prosecutor said.
"It appears that Mrs. Stasko and young Nellie were dressed for bed," Molinelli said. Melissa was shot once behind her right ear and the girl behind her left, he said.
Based upon the temperature of the bodies, "the three had been in that bedroom for quite some time," Molinelli said.
No one reported hearing any noises, but that may have been the result of loud music that came either from the Stasko apartment or another unit, the prosecutor. Detectives were interviewing other building occupants.
Michael Stasko was a watch salesman who sold to law enforcement personnel and their supporters, Molinelli said.
Although the gun wasn't registered in New Jersey, he said, Stasko could have been bought it with him from New York when the family moved to the luxury a few years ago.
"We do not know at this point in time why Mr. Stasko shot his wife and daughter," Molinelli said. "We don't know what perhaps was going through Mr. Stasko's mind for him to do this.
"There were indications that Nellie Stasko looked very lovingly upon the father," he noted. "There were cards and things around the apartment.
"It is always troubling when an 8-year-old is murdered in this way. For her sake, we'll get to the bottom of this," the prosecutor said.
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