PRINCESS ANNE, Md. -- A man and his seven children found dead in their Maryland home Monday were poisoned by carbon monoxide from a generator they were using after the power company cut off their electricity, a couple who identified themselves as the man's mother and stepfather said.
Police found the bodies at the home in Princess Anne after being contacted by a concerned co-worker of the father, who had not been seen for days, Princess Anne police said in a news release.
They identified the deceased only as an adult and seven young people ages 6 to the teens. They said the cause of the deaths was still under investigation.
Bonnie and Lloyd Edwards, encountered outside the home by a reporter from The Associated Press, identified themselves as the mother and stepfather of Rodney Todd, 36, whom they identified as the adult who died. They said Todd had seven children, including five girls and two boys. The Edwardses said police told them the family died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Bonnie Edwards identified the children as boys Cameron Todd, 13, and Zycheim Todd, 7; and girls Tynijuiza Todd, 15; Tykira Todd, 12; Tybree Todd, 10; Tyania Todd, 9; and Tybria Todd, 6.
Lloyd Edwards said when police told them Todd had died, "It was disbelief."
"It's so hard. How can you understand something like that?"
He said Delmarva Power had cut off the electricity to the house because of an outstanding bill.
"To keep his seven children warm, (Todd) bought a generator," Lloyd Edwards said. "It went out and the carbon monoxide consumed them."
Princess Anne Police Chief Scott Keller told the AP there was a generator in the kitchen that was out of gasoline.
The deaths are "extremely tragic for the whole town," he said.
Matt Likovich, a spokesman for Delmarva Power, would not say Monday night whether the power had been cut off. He said the matter was being investigated.
Bonnie Edwards described her son as a loving, caring young man who set an example for his children. "I don't know anyone his age who would have done what he did" for his children, she said. "I was so proud to say he took care of seven kids."
Todd was a utility worker at the nearby University of Maryland Eastern Shore, said his supervisor, Stephanie Wells. Wells, who hadn't seen Todd since March 28, said she went to the house Monday morning and knocked on the door, but no one answered. She then filed a missing-person report with police.
CBS Salisbury, Maryland affiliate WBOC-TV reports UMES President Dr. Juliette Bell issued a statement Monday night saying, "The UMES community extends its sincerest sympathies to the family of Rodney Todd, a Thompson Hospitality employee who lost his life in what authorities believe was a household accident here in Princess Anne."
Princess Anne is located on Maryland's Eastern Shore.