A father and his seven children were found dead inside their Maryland home yesterday, likely poisoned by carbon monoxide from a generator running after the home's electricity was turned off, relatives say. The man's supervisor in food service at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore visited the Princess Anne home after he didn't turn up for work Saturday, but no one answered the door, the Daily Times reports. She filed a missing person report and police discovered the bodies of Rodney Todd, 36, and five girls and two boys, aged 6 to 16, alongside a generator that was out of gas. There was no power to the home due to an unpaid bill, relatives say. "To keep his seven children warm, [Todd] bought a generator," his stepfather tells the AP. "It went out and the carbon monoxide consumed them."
The official cause of death hasn't been determined, but no foul play is suspected. Princess Anne's police chief says officers "knew they weren't going to find any live people" in the home when they entered it. "It was disbelief," Todd's stepfather says. "It's so hard. How can you understand something like that?" Todd's mother adds, "I don't know anyone his age who would have done what he did" for his kids. "You couldn't ask for a better father. You couldn't ask for a better man." Todd was last seen March 28. A family friend tells NBC News "the system failed him. ...They didn't reach out to help him with his utility bills." The children's mother has been notified. Meanwhile in Tennessee, police say three people died of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning from a gas generator on Saturday, WATE reports. A fourth person is in intensive care. (Read more carbon monoxide stories.)