A family of four were found dead in their Ohio home on Thursday, the victims of what authorities believe is a case of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Richard Gabriel Reitter III, 50, and his wife, Jennifer Reitter, 49, were found dead in their Genoa Township home along with their two children, Richard and Grace. The family's three dogs also died.
"Our community suffered a terrible loss," Genoa Township police Chief Stephen Gammill said at a press conference Friday.
Police checked in on the Reitter family Thursday when relatives contacted authorities after being unable to reach the family since Monday. Officers were told that members of the family had been complaining of illness, sparking concern.
When police arrived, the home was secure and they encountered a suspicious odor, prompting them to contact fire officials, Gammill said.
"Once personnel got on scene, they suspected a carbon monoxide incident," Genoa Township Fire Deputy Chief Joseph Ponzi said.
Ponzi noted that his department considers 30 parts per million (ppm) for carbon monoxide to be potentially harmful. When firefighters entered the home, they found readings inside of 1,000 ppm — the maximum reading on the meter.
At 1,000 ppm, a person can lose consciousness within an hour, Ponzi said.
"It was unsafe for any person to enter that structure," he said.
Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless and can spark symptoms similar to those of the common flu, such as dizziness, headache, and nausea.
Winter months tend to be the time officials most often find cases of potential carbon monoxide poisoning because of faulty heating systems, but officials said the chemical can originate from multiple appliances.
Officials are still looking at the source of the carbon monoxide that led to the family's deaths, Gammill said.
"We cannot stress enough to have at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home," Ponzi said.
On Facebook, Holly Reitter paid tribute to her late cousin's family and urged people to install and check carbon monoxide monitors.
"Please check and double check your detectors or order more if you need to. Life is too short," she wrote. "Save your life and others by a simple gesture. RIP to my cousin and his family suddenly lost by this silent killer."