A woman and her 7-year-old son fell to their deaths at a Manhattan hotel Friday morning, police said. Investigators have yet to determine whether it was a murder-suicide or an accident.
Police officials told the Associated Press the dead were Stephanie Adams, 46, and her son, Vincent.
Adams, a former Playboy model and author, had been locked in a custody battle with her estranged husband, her former attorney, Raoul Felder, told The Washington Post on Friday.
A spokesman for the New York Police Department declined to confirm the identity of the woman and the child.
Felder said Adams had been his client for 20 years but had ended his services in the past couple of months. Employees at his law office have been in tears since hearing the news, he added.
Many of the employees knew Adams and her son, he said. Vincent would play with a Spider-Man figurine or run down the long hallway during his mother’s office visits, according to Felder.
Adams had challenges, Felder said, but he did not believe that she was depressed.
“If you met her, you would say, ‘This is the politest, sweetest person you could ever meet,’ ” he said.
NYPD Assistant Chief William Aubry said a witness heard two loud noises near a second-floor courtyard of the luxury Gotham Hotel and discovered the bodies. First responders arrived and pronounced both dead at the scene around 8:15 a.m., he said.
Aubry said the woman and her son checked into a 25th-floor penthouse Thursday evening, though it is unclear whether they fell from that floor or another. The hotel declined to comment.
Investigators arrived with cardboard boxes and equipment to collect evidence. A medical examiner will determine the cause of death, police said.
Adams’s estranged husband, Manhattan chiropractor Charles Nicolai, could not be reached for comment, and neither could a lawyer associated with him. A receptionist at Nicolai’s business, Wall Street Chiropractic and Wellness, declined to comment.
Adams was Miss November for Playboy magazine in 1992. In 2006, she said New York police officers threw her to the ground and inappropriately touched her after a taxi driver falsely accused her of having a gun. She was awarded $1.2 million in damages in 2012.
Felder said the divorce proceedings were so contentious that Adams had Nicolai meet her at a New York police precinct to hand their son off on visitation days, a kind of agreement that is unusual, though not unheard of.
Adams had recently been denied permission to take her son on a trip to Europe. She was scheduled to leave Thursday, Felder said.
He is not sure whether that contributed to a chain of events that ended in the death of a mother and her son.
“I can’t wrap my head around it … to do this to a little boy. I don’t get it,” Felder said.