A Playboy model and her seven-year-old son have died after falling from a New York hotel penthouse suite, police have said.
Stephanie Adams, 47, and her son Vincent were found dead in the rear courtyard of the Gotham Hotel in Manhattan on Friday, having checked into the suite on the 25th floor at about 6pm the previous day.
The former Playboy model and author had earlier told the New York Post that she was distraught at not being able to take her son on a holiday to Europe, amid a custody dispute with her estranged husband Charles Nicolai.
“All I want to do is take my son and get away from this nightmare for a few days,” she reportedly said. “But they won’t let me.”
Mr Nicolai, a Manhattan chiropractor, and Ms Adams were involved in a long-running custody dispute and police had been called with regard to the issue in recent months.
In February, Ms Adams had tweeted to her 1.3m followers that she planned to visit London for a weekend.
Raoul Felder, a friend of Ms Adams who was also her lawyer until recently, said she was “sweet and ultra-polite”, and would routinely send him birthday cards until she missed the date this year.
She often passed by his office with her son, who enjoyed playing with a superman figurine, he said.
“She was never depressed while I knew her. She had certain problems, but depression wasn’t one of them,” he said.
The lawyer described the battle for rights over the couple’s son as a “very tough custody case”.
Ms Adams was also involved in a 2006 lawsuit in which she was falsely accused by a taxi driver of carrying a gun, then assaulted by police.
A judge awarded $373,000 in damages following a legal battle, reduced from an original $1.2m awarded by the jury.
Her successful career in modelling was followed by years in the public eye, and she started her own publishing company through which she wrote and produced 25 self-help books with a focus on astrology and mysticism.
She also ran an online beauty products company and the finances for her husband’s chiropractor company.
Mr Nicolai’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.