Grief counselors available at school after Edgewater murder-suicide

EDGEWATER, New Jersey (WABC) -- Grief counselors will be avalable at an elementary school in New Jersey, to help students deal with the murder of a classmate over the holiday break.

Investigators are still searching for a motive after they say 53-year old Michael Stasko shot and killed his wife and daughter before turning the gun on himself.

According to police, 49-year old Melissa Stasko and 8-year old Mellie Stasko were killed with a .45 caliber weapon on the 17th floor of their Edgewater apartment building.

"All three of them were within the bed in the couple's bedroom. It is definitely apparent to us that the shootings took place in the bed," said Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli.

Police got a call from a man who said he was concerned that his sister, Mrs. Stasko, and her family had not arrived in Missouri for their planned visit on Christmas Day. He couldn't reach them by phone.

That's what prompted investigators to do a welfare check on the apartment. What they found was devastating.

"There were things in the apartment that would give one the indication that Mellie Stasko looked very lovingly upon her father," said Molinelli. "You see some cards, some holiday cards. So it would appear that at least from 8-year-old's standpoint that she very much loved her father."

Investigators say the shots appear to have been fired between the evening of Dec. 22nd and the morning of the 23rd.

Detectives believe a towel may have been used in front of the weapon, and music may have been playing. Neighbors didn't hear the shots.

Inside the apartment were unopened presents under a tree.

"One always has to wonder what would possess anyone to do that. An innocent 8 year old girl. And I'm hopeful that we'll find out the reason. Because she deserves at least the public to understand what happened here. It's always troubling," said Molinelli.

Molinelli said Michael Stasko operated his watch business out of his home.

Counselors, psychologists and social workers plan to help students cope with the killings.

Edgewater school officials announced the counseling team will be in place when students return to school Jan. 4. District officials will be available this week to help parents as needed.

(Some information from the Associated Press.)

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