- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) - Three people found dead in a Long Beach apartment may have been overcome by carbon monoxide fumes from a propane heater, authorities said Tuesday.

The bodies were discovered Monday night by police officers conducting a welfare check at the request of neighbors who said a bad smell had emerged in the building.

One neighbor, Idelfonsa Cruz, 56, said that after eliminating other possibilities she became convinced someone had died. “It smelled like death,” Cruz told the Los Angeles Times.

She and other neighbors began knocking on the door, and when only one apartment didn’t answer, she looked through a window. She said she saw the body of one man lying on a mattress in the corner of a room and another man on the kitchen floor.

She said she cried out: “Oh my God! Oh my God! There’s two dead people!”

Authorities found a 51-year-old man, a 34-year-old woman and a male whose age was unknown. Their bodies were in a state of decomposition, and a propane heater was discovered near the victims, said Ed Winter, spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner.

The case is being investigated as an accident, Winter said.

The victims’ names were withheld, pending notification of their relatives.

The apartment complex’s manager, Dioser Quintero, told the Long Beach Press-Telegram that the people had just moved in at the beginning of the month and were not seen after the first few days.

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