A former Playboy centerfold embroiled in a custody battle over her 7-year-old son appears to have taken his life along with hers.
According to the AP, 46-year-old Stephanie Adams and her son Vincent apparently jumped to their deaths from the 25th floor of a Manhattan hotel, law enforcement officials said Friday. They fell 23 floors and were found on a second-floor balcony at about 8:15 a.m. Friday in the rear courtyard of the Gotham Hotel.
They had checked into the hotel’s penthouse suite at about 6 p.m. Thursday, officials said, just hours after she told the New York Post that her husband and his lawyer were blocking her from taking her son away on vacation.
“All I want to do is take my son and get away from this nightmare for a few days,” the Post quoted Adams as saying. “But they won’t let me.”
Adams, who first posed for Playboy in 1992, was involved in a custody dispute over Vincent with her estranged husband, a Manhattan chiropractor named Charles Nicolai, according to law enforcement. They said police had been called to their home several times in the past few months.
Adams and Nicolai had been in “a very tough custody case,” said Raoul Felder, a divorce lawyer who represented her for a time. The standoff was contentious enough that the former couple handed off their son to each other at a police precinct, an arrangement that’s unusual but not unheard of, Felder said.
Felder said he had been friends with Adams for 20 years but stopped representing her in the divorce case a couple of months ago. Recently, she had been hoping to go to Europe to be with a boyfriend there, and that had become an issue in the case, he said.
Still, “she was never depressed while I knew her. She had certain problems, but depression wasn’t one of them,” Felder said.
Adams was also facing a lawsuit brought by a massage therapist who said she’d been fired from Nicolai’s chiropractic office because Adams was jealous. Adams denied the claims. Court papers filed Friday show the massage therapist agreed this week to end the claims against Nicolai.
Adams was Playboy’s “Miss November” centerfold in 1992. She appeared again in Playboy in 2003, and she had also worked with Elite Model Management. The New York Post profiled Adams in 2013, saying that she had by then written more than 25 self-help books, ran an online beauty products company called Goddessy Organics, and managed the finances in her husband’s office.