The father of a slain 7-year-old is “distraught” over the loss of his son, who was killed in a murder-suicide when his mother, a former Playboy centerfold, jumped with the boy from a New York City hotel on Friday.
An attorney for Charles Nicolai, a New York-based chiropractor, says the man is grieving the deaths of his son and his estranged wife Stephanie Nicolai, despite the pair’s contentious custody battle in the months before the deaths.
“Charles is Distraught over the loss of his beloved son Vincent, who was the center of his life and for Stephanie whom he cared for deeply,” William Beslow, Nicolai’s attorney, tells PEOPLE in a statement.
“We request privacy during this difficult time for Charles and his family as they mourn and remember the memories of Vincent and Stephanie.”
Lieutenant John Grimpel previously told PEOPLE the woman jumped from the 25th floor of the Gotham Hotel in Manhattan with the boy around 8:15 a.m. local time. Grimpel said the pair’s bodies were found on the second-floor landing of the hotel’s courtyard.
The mother and child both died of multiple blunt impact injuries, with the child suffering injuries to the head, neck, torso and limbs, a spokesperson for the city’s medical examiner told PEOPLE. Stephanie’s manner of death was labeled suicide and Vincent’s was ruled a homicide.
In the wake of the deaths, Raoul Felder, Stephanie’s longtime friend and former attorney, told PEOPLE that the custody battle was “tough,” and that the former couple had to meet at a police station to exchange custody of Vincent.
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“He was an adorable child,” Felder said of the boy. “He used to run down the halls here. Very bright, beautiful child. I’m not wrapping my head around this. I never saw her unhappy. Her whole life was wrapped up in the child.”
Sources say Stephanie wanted to take the boy to Europe to visit or live with her new boyfriend. A judge allegedly told Stephanie she could not take the boy outside the country without the court’s permission.
Still, Felder, who described Stephanie as a “sweet” person, said the judge’s decision wouldn’t have prompted Stephanie to harm herself or her son.
“When she left here she was very positive,” Felder told PEOPLE of the last time he saw her months ago. “Something must’ve taken a nosedive in her psyche.”
The Gotham Hotel, located on East 46th Street about four blocks from Grand Central Station, is a boutique hotel that traces its name to a landmark bookstore that last stood on its location prior to the hotel’s construction in 2010.
Suicide Prevention: What to Know
Experts say some common warning signs of suicide include discussing a desire to die or feeling anxious or hopeless, like a burden, or trapped or in pain; withdrawing from others; extreme mood swings, including anger and recklessness; and abnormal sleep patterns (sleeping too much or too little).
Many suicides have multiple causes and are not triggered by one event, according to experts, who underline that suicidal crises can be overcome with help. Where mental illness is a factor, it can be treated.
Reaching out to those in need is a simple and effective preventative measure, experts say.
If you or someone you know is showing warning signs of suicide, consider contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK, texting the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or seeking help from a professional.