Editor’s Note: See updated story on elevated levels of carbon monoxide found in hotel room here.
By Jesse Wood
June 10, 2013. On Saturday at about noon, local law enforcement, fire and rescue personnel responded to the Best Western Plus, where Jeffrey Williams, an 11-year-old boy, was found dead.
The boy’s mother, Jeannie Williams, 49, of Rock Hill, S.C., was transported to the Watauga Medical Center for treatment. As of Monday at noon, she is in stable condition, according to Gillian Baker, a spokesperson for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System
Hours after responding to Saturday’s call, Sgt. Shane Robbins of the Boone Police Department sent out a release stating that an elderly couple died in the same room of the hotel in April.
Robbins couldn’t provide any other details as to what happened that day in April, but he did say that investigators were “exploring all possibilities” to figure out if the three deaths and one hospitalization were in any way linked.
“While no evidence has been discovered that these incidents are related, investigators continue to explore all possibilities,” Robbins said.
Aside from the names of the mother and son, authorities have released few details.
While the Boone Police Department has not released information identifying the couple that died in April, a man from Washington state told the Charlotte Observer that his parents died in Room 225 of the Best Western Plus on April 16.
Doug Jenkins of Olympia said his parents Daryl Dean Jenkins, 73, and Shirley Mae Jenkins, 72, both of Longview, Wash., were vacationing in Boone at the time, and obituaries documented on the website of Hampton Funeral Service confirm that the couple from Longview, Wash., died together on April 16.
Efforts to contact Doug Jenkins were unsuccessful, however the Charlotte Observer reported that Jenkins was outraged that the Best Western Plus continued to rent out the room even though toxicology reports hadn’t yet came through.
“Do you know how mad I am right now?” Jenkins asked. “Why are they still renting out this room?”
He told the Charlotte paper that family members traveling with the elderly couple found them lying two feet from each other with a cellphone nearby.
“Things just don’t add up,” Jenkins said, adding that his family is working with a lawyer but would wait to file a lawsuit until the toxicology reports come back.
He also said that a lawyer representing the Washington state family told the Best Western Plus in May “not to make any changes to the room before the family could perform an independent investigation.”
The manager at the Best Western Plus has declined to comment since the latest incident occurred. Currently, the Best Western Plus on East King Street across from New Market Center is roped off and closed due to the investigations. The property is owned by AJD Investments, according to tax maps recorded with the Watauga County Register of Deeds. The Best Western was among several hotels Ashok Patel owned before he died in January.
On Monday, Robbins said investigators with the Boone Police Department have renewed requests for toxicology and autopsy results from the N.C. Office of Chief Medical Examiner concerning the deaths on April 16. Those reports are unavailable as of early Monday.
Robbins added that the Boone Police and Fire Departments continue to investigate the cause of the fatality and injury that occurred on Saturday and that the N.C. State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors will have investigators on Wednesday, June 12, to aid in the investigation.