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Mother, Child Found Dead Inside East Orange Home; Carbon Monoxide Suspected

EAST ORANGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Investigators are trying to determine if carbon monoxide is to blame for the deaths of a mother and her young daughter in East Orange.

Family members were overwhelmed with grief as they arrived at the home at 59 Dodd Street, CBS2's Christine Sloan reported.

At around 8:26 a.m. Wednesday, Octavia Campbell and her 6-year-old daughter Christiana were discovered in the home by Octavia's boyfriend, acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray said.

Octavia Campbell and daughter
Octavia Campbell and daughter

Mother, Child Found Dead Inside East Orange Home

"They just found them in the house dead from carbon monoxide poisoning. ... Her first cousin said that," East Orange resident Dorian Jennings told Sloan.

PSE&G confirmed that the power had been shut off at the home Tuesday.

"PSE&G responded to a call this morning from the East Orange police department reporting a gas odor at 59 Dodd Street in East Orange. The customer's electricity had been shut off April 7 for non-payment," PSE&G said in a statement.

PSE&G said they sent Campbell shut-off notices from October of last year until March, Sloan reported.

"PSE&G sends multiple notices along with information on how to apply for financial assistance before we shut off a customer," the utility added. "In our bills and other communications with customers, we educate them about the safety hazards of using gas and electric stand-alone heaters and generators. We also offer safety tips. This is a tragedy."

Mother, Child Found Dead Inside East Orange Home

Danny Earl Campbell Sr., Octavia's minister father, said he learned Tuesday that her power had been cut off and he promised to help her pay the bill, but by the time he found out, PSE&G's offices were closed.

So he placed a gasoline-powered generator inside his daughter's basement after PSE&G shut off the power, Sloan reported.

"To have a child like Octavia, one would be blessed," he told WCBS 880's Levon Putney. "I'm a believer that one day we will meet again."

"I'm angry. I'm in shock. I have a whole lot just running through my head all at one time," added Tesha Williams Hall, Octavia Campbell's first cousin.

Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless. There was a carbon monoxide detector in the home but it was inoperable, Chief of Detectives Anthony F. Ambrose said.

Experts say you can protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning by having detectors and making sure your gas appliances are properly installed. Also, you should never using a generator inside where there is no ventilation.

At this time, there is no sign of trauma or foul play, Murray said.

The official cause of death will be determined following an autopsy.

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