NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A manhunt is underway for the suspect in the murder of a mother and two of her three daughters at a Staten Island hotel Wednesday.
Rebecca Cutler, 26, and two of her baby daughters died after being stabbed at around 8:50 a.m. at the Ramada Inn at 535 Gannon Ave. North in the Willowbrook section Wednesday morning, police said. A third child is in critical condition.
The disturbing discovery was made by a house keeper at the hotel, CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported.
Cutler was rushed Richmond University Medical Center in critical condition but died a short time later.
The children — 5-month-old Maliyah, 1-year-old Ziana and 2-year-old Miracle — were rushed to Staten Island University Hospital. Maliyah and Ziana later died, police said.
Miracle is critical condition and is expected to survive.
Police named Michael Sykes as a suspect wanted in connection with the stabbing. They said he admitted his guilt to his mother, calling her to say he killed his girlfriend and was planning to kill himself, CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported.
Police said Sykes and Cutler got into an argument on Tuesday and Cutler reported to police that he had taken her phone.
Cutler had been living in the hotel since December as part of the Department of Homeless Services shelter system, authorities said. Sykes is Maliyah’s father.
Sykes was seen entering Cutler’s room at around 8:50 a.m. and leaving at around 8:54 a.m. He then got on the Staten Island Ferry, officials said.
According to Chief of Detective Robert Boyce, Skyes got on a bus and then the Staten Island ferry, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.
Police said they recovered a knife at the scene. Sykes has no prior criminal record or history of psychological problems, officials said.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, Sykes face was on wanted posters plastered outside of the Ramada on Wednesday night.
“I think we can all agree that this is an incredibly heinous crime, the attempted murder of this whole family,” said Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.
The Ramada Inn is one of a number of hotels on Staten Island that has a contract with the Department of Homeless Services to house homeless families, Doris reported. Following the stabbing, the hotel will no longer be used as a shelter, and all remaining shelter families there will be moved, 1010 WINS Samantha Liebman reported.
“There’s nothing more horrible than the notion of an adult who would attack an innocent child,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “This is an atrocious crime.”
One woman named Amanda, who did not want to show her face, told CBS2 her sister lives in the hotel on the same floor.
“She said there was a man in the building stabbing babies,” Amanda said.
Amanda’s sister described what she heard.
“She heard the dispute earlier and she thought it was just regular or whatever; she thought it was just normal and then she started hearing more screaming and the cops,” Amanda said.
Cutlers last known address was in Brooklyn, where CBS2 spoke to her uncle.
“She was a nice girl, the kids were beautiful, yeah the kids were beautiful,” said uncle James Mathis.
Mathis said he last spoke with Cutler three weeks ago.
“She was happy; she said I’m doing fine,” he said.
“(Gainer: Was she afraid of him? Did they have trouble?) Not to my knowledge either,” said friend Allan Thomas.
Officials said the remaining hotels that have contracts with DHS will be provided extra security from the city.
“It’s about two of them (security) that’s there, but I don’t know if they stop everyone that walks in there unless you walk up and grab their attention,” said Rashon Jones, who lives at the shelter.
Police are offering a $2,500 reward for information that leads to an arrest in the case.