A 34-year-old Teaneck man stabbed his girlfriend to death and smothered her 5-year-old daughter with a plastic bag after the child witnessed her mother's grisly murder in Englewood, authorities said Wednesday.
Prosecutors charged Michael C. Brady, a custodian working for a private company at Leonia Middle School, in the killings of Englewood resident Tam Marie “Tammy” Pitts-Gaddy and her daughter, Natasia. Brady allegedly stabbed Gaddy, 40, multiple times during an argument early Monday.
Gaddy and Brady had dated for about three years, and he was not the child's father, according to Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli.
Gaddy's relatives confronted Brady Tuesday after they had not heard from her, Molinelli said. Brady went with the relatives to Gaddy's house on West Palisade Avenue.
"Brady then went to the crime scene with the family members and acted as if he discovered the bodies when he entered through the window," Molinelli said in a statement.
A passerby saw the group breaking into the house and called Englewood police, Molinelli said. Officers found Brady with two of the victim's family members.
Molinelli said Gaddy was found dead in a first floor bedroom and her daughter found in a basement room. Police had responded to previous arguments at the apartment, according to Englewood Police Chief Arthur O'Keefe. It was not clear if they involved Brady or if any arrests had been made.
The 5-year-old's cause of death was ruled as asphyxia from being smothered by the plastic bag, authorities said. Her mother's autopsy was not completed Wednesday, but she appeared to have died from "multiple stab wounds."
Brady stayed at his parents' house in Teaneck when he wasn't with Gaddy, according to authorities.
Brady's brother, Shawn, defended Michael in a Facebook message posted Tuesday after the bodies were found.
"Everyone accusing my brother shut up. You dont know how much he has taught me about love," the message stated.
"I'm so broken, I'm so confident in my brother and I hope he stays strong. I hope the law is fair to him because I don't want killers out running about. Tammy didn't deserve that, that baby didn't deserve that," another message posted late Wednesday said.
Neighbors in Teaneck said they were shaken to hear a local had been charged in the brutal killings. One resident said Brady's family had lived in the area for many years.
"It's scary, terrifying," said one township resident, who asked not to be identified. "You never know who's around the neighborhood."
In a letter sent to parents Wednesday, Leonia school officials said Brady worked the night shift through contractor Pritchard Industries and grief counselors would be brought in.
Counselors were also made available in Englewood, where Natasia attended the Quarles Early Learning Center, a district spokeswoman said.
Friends and neighbors in Englewood remembered Gaddy as a kind, giving woman who was seen around the neighborhood with her young daughter.
Roesha Hooks, 28, who said her mother was friends with Gaddy, stopped by the crime scene Wednesday to drop off a baby Jesus candle, lip gloss and a Minnie Mouse stuffed animal that she said reminded her of Natasia.
"She was so dainty, so delicate," Hooks said.
Another woman, who gave her name as Kesha, said her daughter used to play with Gaddy's daughter, Natasia.
"[Gaddy] was with her daughter every single day," Kesha said. "There wasn't a day that you didn't see them together."
Brady, a Jamaican citizen who has lived in the United States since he was 10, faces two counts of murder, weapons possession and hindering apprehension charges, and was being held on $2 million bail at the Bergen County Jail.
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