MOORHEAD, Minn. (AP) — Seven members of an immigrant family from Honduras whose bodies were found inside a Minnesota home last weekend died of carbon monoxide poisoning, authorities said Wednesday.
Relatives of the family discovered the victims Saturday night in a home in south Moorhead when the went to check on them after not hearing from them. Neighbors said the children were last seen Friday.
Officials with the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office in St. Paul examined blood samples to determine cause of death. Those tests showed a lethal level of carbon monoxide, authorities said.
Police Chief Shannon Monroe said the carbon monoxide came from either the home’s furnace or a Kia van in the garage. He said further tests were being done to determine whether the victims had hydrogen cyanide in their blood, which would point to the van, and those tests might take up to eight weeks.
Investigators found that a carbon monoxide detector in the garage had been removed and replaced with a smoke-only detector.
“We have not found anything indicating any kind of criminal activity,” Monroe said at a news conference.
The family members were identified earlier as Belin Hernandez, 37; Marleny Pinto, 34; Eldor Hernandez Castillo, 32; Mariela Guzman Pinto, 19; Breylin Hernandez, 16; Mike Hernandez, 7, and Marbely Hernandez, 5. They all lived together in the home, police said.
Family members who gathered at the house Monday to share stories described their loved ones as happy people who were relieved to get away from turmoil in Honduras. They had been in the United States between three and eight years, a family translator said.
Moorhead is on the Minnesota border next to Fargo, North Dakota, in a metropolitan area of about 230,000 people.