Police probe CO death in Litchfield

LITCHFIELD – Local and state fire officials continue to investigate the circumstances that led to the carbon monoxide poisoning death of Litchfield resident Jamie Badeau, 40, whose body was found in his Moose Hollow Road home Wednesday evening.

A woman who officials didn’t identify was found alive, although unconscious and unresponsive, by firefighters and police who were called around 6 p.m. to the large, upscale residence to check on the welfare of the occupants, officials said.

Deputy State Fire Marshal Keith Rodenhiser said at a hastily convened press conference at the Department of Safety offices in Concord that the woman was taken to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua. He said she was continuing to receive treatment Thursday afternoon, but he didn’t have an update on her condition.

An autopsy performed Thursday morning confirmed that Badeau died of carbon monoxide poisoning, and his death was ruled accidental.

Fire officials and police remained at 22 Moose Hollow Road most of Wednesday night, and by Thursday morning, TV news crews had gathered in front of the property. Neighbors were either not home or declined to comment.

The property’s lawn appeared to have not been mowed for weeks; tree branches and twigs were scattered around. Unkempt hedges and bushes flanked windows with no curtains.

Litchfield Fire Chief Frank Fraitzl, who joined Rodenhiser and Litchfield Police Capt. Ben Sargent at the news conference, said firefighters routinely carry portable carbon monoxide detectors in their equipment bags because there’s no other way to determine its presence.

“You can’t smell it, taste it or see it,” he said, adding that firefighters’ detectors began sounding the moment they got inside Badeau’s residence.

“We detected extremely high levels of carbon monoxide inside the house … levels that aren’t compatible with life,” Fraitzl said.

Rodenhiser, citing the ongoing investigation, said he couldn’t comment on several aspects of the case, including whether the home had power and other utilities and if a generator may have been used.

He said investigators are “looking into all possible sources” of the carbon monoxide, as well as whether the levels varied in different parts of the house.

Sargent said police have been called to 22 Moose Hollow Road in the past for what he called “minor activity,” such as noise complaints and for dogs running at large.

“Other than that, there was nothing out of the ordinary,” he said.

The tragedy underscores the importance of having working carbon monoxide detectors in homes and other buildings, safety officials said.

They should be installed “on every level of a home and outside of each bedroom,” officials said in a joint statement.

Gas-powered generators, as well as car engines, should be at least 10 feet from a house when running, and have the exhaust facing away from the building, officials said.

“Carbon monoxide exposure can come from many common household appliances, such as wood stoves, furnaces, hot water heaters, gas ovens and stoves, gas or kerosene space heaters, motor vehicles and generators,” they said.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-1256, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DeanS.