Elderly Couple Found Dead in Gas-Filled Apartment

NY Post - April 17, 2017

by C.J. Sullivan and Daniel Prendergast

An elderly couple married 47 years were found dead in their East Harlem apartment Sunday after they apparently left the oven on overnight, causing the home to fill with noxious gas, authorities said.

John Crawford, 80 and his 71-year-old wife, Doris, had plans to attend Easter Mass at Eastward Missionary Baptist Church with their family when they were discovered by their daughter, Rita Crawford, and her husband around 9 a.m., the grief stricken woman told The Post.

“We were supposed to go to church today,” said the couple’s distraught daughter, Rita Crawford.

“I know my father couldn’t live without my mother, and my mother couldn’t live without my father. Now at least they are together,” she said, of her parents.

The FDNY responded to Rita’s 911 call at the building on First Avenue near East 101st Street, where firefighters found the couple dead inside their fifth floor apartment, officials said.

The oven had apparently been left on overnight, filling the apartment with gas and causing the couple to die of carbon monoxide poisoning, officials said.

Rita said she became nervous when several attempts to reach her parents by phone Sunday morning went unanswered, prompting her and husband, Gary McFadden, to stop by their apartment.

“The gas smell was bad; strong,” McFadden recalled. “I ran to open the terrace door to get air in there.”

He said he walked into the bedroom to find his father-in-law lying on the bed with vomit next to his mouth. Doris was in the bedroom as well, seated in a chair.

“It looked like she was sleeping but I knew she had passed,” McFadden said, overcome with emotion.

Neighbors said the Crawfords were very involved members of Eastward Missionary Baptist Church, adding that John sang in the choir.

“She was one of the mothers of the church,” said Lorre Maynard, referring to Doris.

“You saw one you saw the other. They were great parents and people. They will be missed,” she added.

The FDNY ventilated and searched the building to ensure no other residents had been succumbed to the gas, said Deputy Chief James Coyne.

“The oven was on in the apartment. There was no food in the oven,” he said, adding there were no carbon monoxide detectors in the home.

“The apartments directly above, below, and on each side of the effected apartment had normal CO levels. There was no evacuation.”