Tags: nc | motel | deaths | carbon | monoxide

NC Motel Deaths in Same Room Blamed on Carbon Monoxide; Leak Sought

Wednesday, 12 Jun 2013 04:53 PM

By Ken Mandel

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The mystery surrounding three deaths months apart in the same North Carolina motel room have been blamed on carbon monoxide poisoning, according to multiple reports.

Police found an elevated level of carbon monoxide in Room 225 at the Best Western Plus Blue Ridge Plaza hotel, in Boone, N.C., where 11-year-old Jeffrey Lee Williams was found dead this week and his mother, Jeannie Williams, 49, found injured. Two months earlier, the bodies of Daryl Dean Jenkins, 73, and Shirley Mae Jenkins, 72, were discovered in the same room, also the result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

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For a time, the story read like a modern day "Psycho," where Norman Bates murdered travelers. A Charlotte Observer story, "Mystery surrounds Boone motel deaths," prompted a slew of reader comments that included words like "terrifying," "bizarre," and "incredibly creepy."

Boone Police Chief Dana Crawford told reporters "a presumptive test (by emergency workers) indicated elevated level of carbon monoxide in the room."

"If it's the same (cause for all three deaths), this is ridiculous," Betty Austin, owner of the Mountain House restaurant near the hotel, told CNN Monday.

Authorities are still trying to determine the source of the gas. Boone Fire Chief Jimmy Isaacs hopes the North Carolina State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors, who arrived Wednesday, will pinpoint the cause of the carbon monoxide, NBC News reported.

Carbon monoxide is often called "the silent killer." It is an odorless, tasteless gas borne out of combustion and is the cause of hundreds of accidental deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. North Carolina is one of 27 states where carbon monoxide alarms are mandatory in residential buildings, but not in commercial buildings.

Paul Culpepper, a lawyer retained by the hotel, issued a statement saying the "health and safety of guests who stay at our hotel is our number one priority. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of those involved.

"We are cooperating fully with authorities who are investigating this truly tragic incident. The hotel will remain closed as we work closely with authorities to address any issues identified and authorities declare the hotel cleared for occupancy."

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