Authorities investigating the deaths of a Maryland father and his seven children said that carbon monoxide poisoning from a gas generator was likely the cause of death.
Rodney Todd, 36, was found dead Monday afternoon in his Princess Anne, Md., home along with his five daughters, Tynijuiza Todd, 15; Tykira Todd, 12; Tybree Todd, 10; Tyania Todd, 9; and Tybria Todd, 6, and two sons, Cameron Todd, 13, and Zycheim Todd, 7.
Tyisha Chambers, 36, identified in reports as the mother of the seven children, was not in the house at the time.
Princess Anne Police Chief Scott Keller told the Associated Press investigators found no signs of foul play in the home, but said that the utility company Delmarva Power had cut off electricity to the home because of nonpayment.
“To keep his seven children warm, (Todd) bought a generator,” Lloyd Edwards, Mr. Todd’s stepfather, told the AP. “It went out and the carbon monoxide consumed them.”
Authorities said that Mr. Todd’s supervisor at his food service job at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shores, said she last saw him on March 28, which was the last day anyone had seen or spoken to any of the victims. The supervisor contacted the police when Mr. Todd failed to show up for work or call.
Authorities entered the home on Monday about 1 p.m. and “could tell something was wrong,” the AP reported. They found the gas-powered generator in the kitchen had run out of fuel, meaning the machine likely had been emitting fumes.
Bonnie Edwards, Mr. Todd’s mother, told the AP her son was a loving, caring man who tried to set an example for his children. “I don’t know anyone his age who would have done what he did for his children,” she told the AP. “I was so proud to say he took care of seven kids.”
Accidental carbon monoxide poisoning causes about 430 deaths in the U.S. every year, according to the latest available figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationally, the average number of deaths by unintended carbon monoxide poisoning is 1.53 per 1 million.