What to Know
- A former Playboy centerfold jumped with her 7-year-old son out a window of a midtown hotel Friday; both were pronounced dead at the scene
- The mother has been identified as 47-year-old Stephanie Nicolai, who posed in Playboy in 1992 under the name Stephanie Adams
- The bodies of Nicolai and her young son were found on a second-floor balcony at The Gotham Hotel
The death of a 7-year-old boy killed when his mother, a former Playboy centerfold in a heated custody dispute, jumped from a window of a 29-story midtown hotel last week has been ruled a homicide, police said Monday.
Stephanie Nicolai, a 47-year-old who posed in Playboy in November 1992 under the name Stephanie Adams, and her son Vincent, were killed when Nicolai leaped from the 25th-floor window of the boutique Gotham Hotel on 46th Street Friday morning. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.
The medical examiner's office released autopsy findings on both mother and son Monday, determining the son's death was caused by blunt impact injuries to the head, neck, torso and extremities and ruling it a homicide. The mother's death was caused by multiple blunt impact injuries and ruled a suicide.
Nicolai, an Orange, New Jersey woman who claimed to be Playboy's first lesbian centerfold, had been in the middle of a custody battle with her husband at the time of the fatal leap, according to law enforcement sources.
Both she and her son were found dead on a second-floor balcony. It's not clear how many stories they fell, nor was it known if she was holding her son or got him out the window by some other means.
An attorney friend of 20 years, Raoul Felder, said Nicolai had ongoing personal struggles because of the custody battle. He said she had just lost a court fight to take her son Vincent to Spain and England this summer. Though she had unrealistic expectations, she didn't seem depressed, said Felder.
"It's one of the things that happened that's inexplicable," he told News 4 last week. "She was not morose."
Nicolai also had history with the NYPD; a jury awarded her a $1.2 million brutality lawsuit against the department in 2012. The lawsuit stemmed from a 2006 interaction with a cab driver in which the driver called cops and falsely reported she had a gun and had threatened to shoot him. She accused responding officers of throwing her to the ground, injuring her arm and back.
Lawyer Sanford Rubenstein, who represented Nicolai in the case, remembered that "she adored that child." He said she brought her baby son to court every day to breastfeed.
"The judge provided a separate room for her -- she was still breastfeeding -- to be with the little boy," said Rubenstein.
Felder said, "She submerged her life in that child's life. Everybody in my office was crying when they heard about it."
The investigation into the death plunge is ongoing.
SUICIDE PREVENTION HELP: The National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.