Police: Carbon monoxide poisoning caused 7 deaths in Moorhead home, including a MACCRAY graduate
A furnace and a vehicle parked in the garage were identified as possible sources of carbon monoxide in the home.
MOORHEAD — Police announced that carbon monoxide toxicity caused the deaths of seven people Saturday, Dec. 18, in a south Moorhead home.
The bodies were sent to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office in St. Paul for autopsies and blood tests. On Wednesday, the results of the blood test indicated "a lethal level of carbon monoxide toxicity in the victims," according to a statement from the Moorhead Police Department.
Moorhead police confirmed Monday that the seven bodies found Saturday evening in the twin home at 4403 13th St. S. were those of the Hernandez-Pinto family. The seventh person was the family’s niece, Mariela Guzman Pinto, 19, who graduated in May of 2021 from MACCRAY High School in Clara City, according to a GoFundMe page set up Monday to help her family.
According to the GoFundMe page for the family, Mariela was living with an aunt and uncle, who were also found dead.
"Most were in their beds and appeared to be sleeping," Moorhead Police Chief Shannon Monroe said at a press conference Wednesday at the Moorhead Law Enforcement Center. Carbon monoxide was an immediate concern, he said, and members of the Moorhead Fire Department checked the levels to ensure safety of first responders.
"By Sunday afternoon, the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office had ruled out trauma as a cause of death" Monroe said. "The victims appeared to be red in color," which is a symptom of carbon monoxide toxicity.
A furnace and a vehicle parked in the garage were identified as possible sources of carbon monoxide in the home, and testing is being conducted to determine which device may have caused the high carbon monoxide levels, Monroe said. Those tests can take up to eight weeks.
The police chief said the vehicle in the garage was not running when emergency crews arrived at the home. He said the vehicle had half a tank of gas and that the battery needed to be charged.
"Detectives did find a carbon monoxide detector detached from the wall," he said. It was placed in another room with the battery removed.
Police identified the deceased as Belin Hernandez, 37; Marleny Pinto, 34; Breylin Hernandez, 16; Mike Hernandez, 7; Marbely Hernandez, 5; Eldor Hernandez Castillo, 32; and Mariela Guzman Pinto, 19.
Kelly Boldan contributed to this story.