New York

Carbon Monoxide Suspected in Deaths of New Jersey Mother, 6-Year-Old Daughter: Authorities

Authorities believe they may have been poisoned by carbon monoxide

A 29-year-old woman and her 6-year-old daughter found dead in a New Jersey home Wednesday may have been the victims of carbon monoxide poisoning from a gas generator, prosecutors and relatives say.

Octavia Campbell and her daughter Christiana were found dead in their home on Dodd Street in East Orange at about 10 a.m. Prosecutors say the mother's boyfriend discovered the two when he went to check on Campbell after she didn't answer repeated phone calls. 

Authorities say that a gas generator had been hooked up in the home without proper ventilation, and the power company had cut off electricity for non-payment on Tuesday. It appears there was no working carbon monoxide detectors to warn them of the danger. 

Campbell's father told NBC 4 New York he brought the generator to the home that night so his daughter and granddaughter could have working lights and appliances.

He put it in the basement and told Campbell -- whom the family called "Aki" -- to turn it off after a little while, he said, adding that he thinks she fell asleep and left it running.

There are no signs of trauma or foul play to either of the victims, authorities say. 

Other family members wished Campbell, a single mother who was studying to become a medical assistant and working part-time with her father in his construction business, had asked for help sooner. 

"We would have helped. She didn't need to stay here with a generator," said cousin Karrema Banks. "I believe it must have been an overnight thing, and she was going to handle it herself." 

Campbell's grieving father said, "To have a child like Aki, one would be blessed. I was very lucky to have her." 

Christiana was a "bright little girl, eager to learn" who "lit up the room," her day care teacher Cassandra Davis at Each One Teach One Academy said. 

And Campbell was "always there for us, whenever we had a trip she would go," said Davis. "She was a great mom. Christiana was the world to her." 

Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless. Here are some ways to protect your family from being exposed:

  • Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. You are legally required to have them in the D.C. area. They cost as little as $30 at home improvement stores. Install one on each floor of your home.
  • Check your appliances. Gas appliances like ranges, ovens or even clothes dryers can produce carbon monoxide if they're not installed or working properly, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • Have your chimneys and vents inspected every year by a service technician. A block could cause carbon monoxide to back up in to your home.
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