N.C. motel deaths: Mystery solved?

N.C. motel deaths: Three people died in the same motel room in North Carolina. N.C. police say the deaths were probably caused by carbon monoxide poisoning from a nearby pool heater.

Police said Monday that carbon monoxide poisoning likely killed an 11-year-old South Carolina boy this weekend and two other guests found dead in the same motel room almost two months ago.

Emergency responders found carbon monoxide in the room where Jeffrey Williams of Rock Hill, S.C., died Saturday, Boone police said in a prepared statement. Investigators said a preliminary autopsy found the boy died from asphyxia, which happens when inhaled toxic gases cut off oxygen to the body. State medical examiners will conduct toxicology tests on samples taken from the boy's body.

Jeffrey's 49-year-old mother Jeannie Williams was rushed to a hospital and survived.

A Longview, Wash., couple was found dead in the same motel room on April 16. New toxicology results show 73-year-old Daryl Dean Jenkins and 72-year-old Shirley Mae Jenkins died of carbon monoxide poisoning, police said. A regional pathologist's autopsies on the couple in April resulted in inconclusive causes of death, police said.

Appalachian Hospitality Management, which runs the Best Western Plus Blue Ridge Plaza, did not return phone messages from the Associated Press on Monday.

The motel room the Williamses and Jenkinses shared is near an indoor pool heated by a natural gas heater, Boone Police Sgt. Shane Robbins said. Such heaters can produce carbon monoxide. Police and the health department are cooperating in a public health investigation of the motel and are looking at all possible causes, the health agency said in a statement.

The motel has been closed by police until at least Wednesday, when inspectors from the State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors are due to arrive, Robbins said.

"We're at least going to have it through then, and if need be we'll have it past that," Robbins said.

The Jenkinses were visiting Boone at the beginning of what was to be a three-week vacation, with the entire family planning to meet in Las Vegas near the end, their son, Doug Jenkins, told The Charlotte Observer. His aunt and uncle were traveling with the couple and found them in a position that would suggest they hadn't died from a sudden medical condition, Doug Jenkins said. He declined to elaborate.

"Do you know how mad I am right now?" Doug Jenkins said. "Why are they still renting out this room?"

The family has been consulting with an attorney and is waiting for the couple's toxicology reports to come back, Doug Jenkins said. Autopsy results proved inconclusive, he said.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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