The former Playboy centerfold who fell to her death from a New York City hotel on Friday along with her 7-year-old son pushed the boy from the building first before leaping herself, police confirm to PEOPLE.
Officials determined the deaths of Stephanie Adams and her young son, Vincent, to be a murder-suicide after the pair fell from the 25th floor of the Gotham Hotel in Manhattan around 8:15 a.m. local time. Police found their bodies on the second-floor landing of the hotel’s courtyard.
Although initial reports suggested that Stephanie jumped with the child, police tell PEOPLE she pushed the little boy from the building first.
“I’m not wrapping my head around this,” Raoul Felder, Stephanie’s former attorney and longtime friend, previously told PEOPLE. “Her whole life was wrapped up in the child. Something must’ve happened in her life, and went haywire.”
At the time of the deaths, Stephanie was in the midst of a “tough” custody battle with Dr. Charles Nicolai, of Wall Street Chiropractic & Wellness, said Felder. Felder said the relationship was so contentious that Stephanie and Nicolai would meet at a police station to exchange custody of their son.
“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, told PEOPLE in a statement.
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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.