With reporting by Nicholas Rizzi, Murray Weiss, Aidan Gardiner and Ben Fractenberg
CASTLETON CORNERS — A boyfriend stabbed his girlfriend and her 4-month-old and 1-year-old daughters to death in a Staten Island homeless shelter Wednesday during a rampage that also left the woman's 2-year-old clinging to life, according to police.
Michael Sykes, 25, attacked 26-year-old Rebecca Cutler and her three girls with a kitchen knife inside her room at the Ramada Inn at 535 Gannon Ave. N., near Willowbrook Road, shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday, according to sources and an NYPD spokesman.
"This is an atrocious crime," said Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. "I think every parent would share my view that our hearts break when we see innocent children attacked.”
Sykes fled the scene and remained at large amid a citywide manhunt Wednesday afternoon, police said.
Cutler and her girls were rushed to the Richmond University Medical Center and Staten Island University Hospital North, where she and the two youngest children, 1-year-old Ziana Cutler and 4-month old Maiyah Sykes, were declared dead, officials said.
Her 2-year-old underwent surgery and was in critical condition Wednesday.
Cutler and her daughters had moved into the hotel on Dec. 6, but Sykes did not live with them, police said.
Michael Sykes, 23, was wanted in connection with the Wednesday homicide, police said. (NYPD)
Police said Wednesday's violence came a day after Sykes had gotten into an argument with Cutler at Victory Boulevard and O'Connor Avenue before taking her phone. It was unknown what that fight was about.
Police said Sykes had no criminal history and that Tuesday's incident, in which police were called to the scene, was the first complaint police had ever received of domestic violence.
On Wednesday, Sykes, Cutler and the three children went to a deli on Victory Boulevard before going to the hotel together around 8 a.m. Sykes was seen on surveillance video in the hotel hallway accompanying them to their room, Boyce said.
Police believe the stabbing happened around 8.50 a.m. Shortly afterwards, Sykes was seen on a bus headed towards the Staten Island Ferry, police said.
A chambermaid found the victims around 10 a.m. and responding officers found a bloody kitchen knife at the scene, Boyce said.
Sykes called his mother around 10:30 a.m. to confess that he'd killed Cutler and was planning to kill himself, the NYPD's Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said.
Sykes' mother then called police, sources said.
In September, Sykes posted a photo of his newborn daughter to his Facebook page.
A friend of Cutler's who lived at the hotel and who gave her name as Renee, 25, said she told police she saw Sykes on the bus headed towards the ferry.
"He was just as calm as could be," she said.
She helped police search the area for him, but they found nothing, she said.
"[Rebecca] was always happy, energetic, she was always laughing," said Renee, who last saw her Tuesday when she "was regular."
Of Sykes, she said, "I never heard him talk. You said 'hi,' he didn't say nothing."
The hotel is one of four in the borough that are being used by the city to house the homeless, according to the Staten Island Advance. The Department of Homeless Services did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Rashon Jones, 21, who has lived in the hotel for about a month as part of the homeless program, said there are about 15 homeless families currently housed there. He said a security guard patrols the hotel.
"This is crazy," he said.
The mayor said they would close the shelter as a result of the stabbing and the NYPD would offer free security starting Thursday to the remaining 41 hotel shelters in the city.
Police were offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to his arrest.
Neighbors said Cutler was frequently seen around the hotel with her children.
"It's sad. It's tragic. She was good people," said Shaquia Williams, 24.