A New Jersey man sought in the slaying of his ex-wife fled with their two young daughters and hid out at an upstate New York motel while police in the two states launched a desperate search, which ended Friday when he was found dead inside his room from an apparent suicide.
Anthony Trapp's daughters were unharmed when they were coaxed out of the open door of their father's room around 7:30 a.m. Friday by some of the dozens of New York state troopers who had surrounded the five-room motel 45 miles north of New York City.
Police believe Trapp had already killed himself when the older girl, who's 5, opened the door, state police Maj. Ed Raso said.
"We were able to motion to her, and she came out," followed moments later by her 20-month-old sibling, he said.
Members of the state police special operations team scooped them up, wrapped them in blankets and carried them to safety before they were placed in the temporary custody of relatives.
Police then spent more than an hour trying to communicate with Trapp by phone and bullhorn. At 8:40, troopers entered the room and found Trapp, 39, dead on a bed, Capt. Joseph Tripodo said.
Authorities said Trapp apparently killed himself; they didn't release details but said he didn't shoot himself. His body was removed from the motel Friday afternoon.
Area resident Sue Castelluccio was on her way home from her transportation job at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was not allowed to go up her street. She could hear police trying to contact Trapp by bullhorn.
"Anthony, come out," she remembered police saying. "Anthony, answer your cellphone. You did the right thing by letting the children go."
The discovery of Trapp's body ended a 12-hour ordeal that began when police in Old Bridge, N.J., alerted by relatives concerned about the safety of his ex-wife, 37-year-old Heather Trapp, found her body inside his tidy suburban home.
The Middlesex County, N.J., medical examiner's office determined she had been stabbed multiple times and classified her death as a homicide.
Middlesex County prosecutors said Heather Trapp had gone to the home to pick up her daughters late Thursday afternoon after the girls had visited with their father. Police found her body around 8 p.m.
Amber Alerts notifying the public that two children had been abducted were issued in New Jersey and New York. They were canceled when the girls were found safe.
New York state police were alerted by New Jersey authorities that Anthony Trapp was in the lower Hudson Valley with his children, and they searched several local motels before finding his vehicle parked at the Bear Mountain Bridge Motel in the Hudson River hamlet of Fort Montgomery, just south of West Point. Trapp apparently had ditched the New Jersey license plates, and the Nissan Rogue carried New York tags when police found it.
About 40 troopers had surrounded the motel before sunrise. Police say 5-year-old Emma opened the door to room No. 3 and walked toward anxious troopers, with her younger sister, Sophia, following.
The girls were taken to a hospital in nearby Newburgh. Officials said they were unharmed. Relatives of the girls' mother headed to the hospital.
Motel owners Douglas and Ingrid Johnson said everything appeared normal when Anthony Trapp checked in around 7:30 p.m. Thursday, paying $85 up front for a room with a double bed and two twin beds.
"There was no indication there was any problem," Johnson said. "He seemed calm. There was nothing there that seemed abnormal."
The Trapps married in October 2004 in Livingston, N.J., at a ceremony overseen by a rabbi and a Catholic priest. After honeymooning in Hawaii, they settled in Old Bridge, in a tidy, brown-shingled single-family home on a quiet cul-de-sac.
Heather Trapp, formerly Heather Newman, was originally from Staten Island, where she graduated from Port Richmond High School before receiving an associate degree in dental hygiene from New York City Technical College and then working as a dental hygienist at a Manhattan practice.
Anthony Trapp went to high school in Brooklyn and graduated from Brooklyn College with a degree in finance. He worked with Jemmco Capital in Manhattan before joining the New York office of the French financial services company Societe Generale.
Old Bridge Township resident Anthony Dalasi was close friends with the Traps, and said he and his wife are devastated by their neighbors' deaths.
"She was one of the best people we ever met. She would do anything for her children," Dalasi said. "Even while they had their problems, her children were her main priority."
He said Anthony Trapp had been unemployed, and Heather Trapp still worked as a dental hygienist in New York City.