Two Huron Township residents whose decomposed bodies were discovered inside their home in mid-May appear to have died from carbon monoxide poisoning, but officials are still awaiting conclusive test results, deputies said Monday.
Eunice Tuttle, 87 and her son, David Tuttle, 62 were identified through dental records on May 20—three days after a postal worker noticed mail piling up at their home and alerted authorities.
When deputies searched the Tuttles' Cleveland Road townhouse May 17, they found two severely decomposed, unidentifiable bodies and no apparent signs of foul play, Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said.
Officials suspected the pair could've died as early as mid-April.
Deputies conducted preliminary carbon monoxide tests, uncovering no obvious indication monoxide poisoning was to blame for the Tuttles' death, officials said.
However, when coroners later determined there was no trauma sustained by either individual, deputies turned their sights back to the possibility of high monoxide levels in the home, Erie County Chief Deputy Jared Oliver said.
On May 23, investigators enlisted the help of a Columbia Gas technician. A week later, they brought in a technician with Gundlach Heating and Cooling for a second opinion.
Both technicians came to the same conclusion, Oliver said:
“All signs point to the probability of carbon monoxide poisoning. However, (the technicians) aren't able to replicate weather conditions, air conditions and pressure conditions inside the unit at the time of death,” Oliver said.
Though technicians found the Tuttles' furnace to be fully functioning, that doesn't necessarily indicate there wasn't a problem in the past.
“There was nothing found that was not working properly—but that doesn't mean there wasn't an issue at the time of death,” Oliver said.
Now that no overt signs of a furnace malfunction have been found, investigators must await the pair's blood work results.
Oliver said those blood tests should reveal the levels of carbon monoxide in the Tuttles' bodies when they died.
Other than that final piece of the puzzle, deputies have essentially concluded their investigation into the Tuttles' death, Oliver said.
“We'll turn all our information over to the coroner's office and await that testing. We'll leave the final determination (on cause of death) up to them,” Oliver said.