Murder Suicide
The woman and her daughter were lying in bed when they were shotCC

In a tragic case of murder-suicide, a New Jersey businessman shot dead his wife and eight-year-old daughter in the couple's bed and then blew his brains out. The bodies were found on Christmas day at a luxury high rise apartment in Edgewater, New Jersey, where presents were still sitting under a Christmas tree.

Michael Stasko, 53, was found with a gunshot wound under his chin, and his wife Melissa Stasko, 49, and daughter Mellie had been shot in the backs of their heads. Authorities said even though the bodies were discovered on Christmas day they may have been lying there since 22 or 23 December. An autopsy is due for the weekend after which the exact day of the death will be known.

"We don't know why he shot his wife and daughter. It does not appear that they tried to defend themselves. They were both lying in bed when it happened and might have both been sleeping," Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli told the New York Daily News. He said the suspected murder weapon, a .45-caliber handgun with hollow-point bullets, was recovered and a towel or blanket may have been used to hush the shot.

Police said they received a call just after 7 pm local time on Christmas day from Melissa's brother on concern that his sister had not arrived for the holiday and was unreachable. As they went to check on the woman, they discovered the three bodies.

Stasko sold custom timepieces to law enforcement officers and associations for a living. Melissa's brother said the family had celebrated their daughter Mellie's birthday on 22 December.