Eight members of a family were found dead Monday in a house in the town of Princess Anne, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, after possibly being overcome by carbon monoxide.
As of late Monday, no official cause of death was released for any of the eight: a man identified as Rodney Todd and his seven children. But people in the community said they understood that the deaths may have been caused by carbon monoxide from a generator used to provide electricity in the family home.
Police Chief Scott Keller said that “power was off in the house” and that the generator was out of fuel when the eight were found “all in sleeping positions,” suggesting that they had been overcome as they slept.
Follow us on twitter @SkytrendNews
Police said the children were ages 6 to 16. They were five girls and two boys, said Stephanie Wells, Todd’s supervisor at his food-service job. Neighbors said Todd was divorced.
Todd worked under Wells at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, which is in Princess Anne, a town of about 3,300, about a dozen miles southwest of Salisbury.
It was not clear how long the family had been dead. Wells said she had not seen Todd since March 28, although she thought that another supervisor had been in contact with him March 29.
Wells had tried to reach Todd by phone after he didn’t show up for work, she said, and had sent other employees to his house to look for him.
On Monday morning, Wells went to the house herself, knocked on the door and got no response. Then she went to the police, who found the bodies.
Carbon monoxide is a deadly, colorless and odorless gas. Running a generator produces the gas, and warnings are issued routinely against using a generator indoors.
“Apparently he didn’t have electricity,” Wells said. She said she did not know the reason. The generator was in the kitchen, she said.
Todd was a “good worker [and a] good father,” Wells said.
Neighbors agreed with that assessment.
“He was a working person and a good father,” said someone who lived near the family.
Neighbors described the children as particularly respectful and well behaved and recalled seeing the family assemble outside the home on Sunday mornings before going to church.
Princess Anne is in Somerset County, which is in the southwestern corner of Maryland’s Eastern Shore and borders Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
The deaths plunged the community into sadness.
“Everybody was so touched and hurt,” a neighbor said. The woman said the grieving and sense of loss extended to children.
“Even the little kids who were the children’s friends. . . . I could hear them crying and screaming,” said Amelia Cannon, a neighbor.
Another woman said that her daughter was a schoolmate of one of the victims and that she tried to shield her from the news.
The death toll was one of the largest in any single such incident in the region.
“It’s a tragedy of great magnitude,” the police chief said.
Source: Watchington Post