A "lethal level of carbon monoxide toxicity" was found in the blood of seven family members who were found dead inside a Moorhead home on December 18, according to autopsy results from the Ramsey County Medical Examiner.
According to the Moorhead Police Department, the source of the carbon monoxide in the home remains under investigation. So far, two known sources of potential carbon monoxide production were found – one inside the "garage area" that has an exterior air intake for fresh air, and another in a van that parked in the garage.
"Detectives have worked with the State Fire Marshal and an HVAC professional and could not duplicate a furnace malfunction whereby carbon monoxide was entering the home," Moorhead PD said, also noting that the van had a dead battery and a half-full gas tank.
"There is no indication it was being worked on, such as tools, jumper cables, or a battery jump starter. Detectives had the car checked by a mechanic, the alternator was functioning correctly, but the battery needed to be charged," police said.
More testing of the victims' blood will be required to find out if there is a presence of hydrogen cyanide, which police said "originates from the exhaust of a motor vehicle."
Those test results could take up to eight weeks, and it will be until those results are finalized before an official cause of the carbon monoxide poisoning is determined.
The victims were found dead Saturday night
The bodies of four adults and three children were found inside the home on the 4400 block of 13th Street South at approximately 7:50 p.m. Saturday. Family members discovered the bodies as they conducted a welfare check, police said.
Moorhead police identified the victims as:
- Belin Hernandez, age 37
- Marleny Pinto, age 34
- Breylin Hernandez, age 16
- Mike Hernandez, age 7
- Marbely Hernandez, age 5
- Eldor Hernandez Castillo, age 32
- Mariela Guzman Pinto, age 19
According to Forum News Service, dispatch records show that the fire department responded to a call for a carbon monoxide detector check at the residence just before 1 a.m. Sunday, "several hours after the bodies were discovered."
All of the victims were members of the Hernandez-Pinto family, according to Pueblo Nuevo Multimedia, which says the family is from Honduras and moved to Moorhead.
A GoFundMe for the family has so far raised about $13,000 of a $50,000 goal.