Elderly Couple Found Dead Inside East Harlem Apartment

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An elderly married couple was found dead inside their apartment in East Harlem Sunday morning.

East Ward Baptist Church Reverend Sean Gardner made the heartbreaking announcement about Doris and John Crawford at Easter services Sunday afternoon.

“Both of them were found dead this morning,” he told his congregation of followers.

Daughter Rita Crawford McFadden found her parents in their fifth floor apartment on 19552 1st Ave. as she was picking them up to take them to church. She says she just saw her them Saturday as they made plans for Easter.

Rita and her husband Gary say they entered the apartment just before 10:30 a.m. and found 71-year-old Doris sitting in a chair in front of the television.

“I thought she was sleeping but she was not breathing and stuff,” Gary said. They soon discovered 80-year-old John, lifeless in bed.

“My wife rolled him over and when she rolled him over I knew he was deceased,” Gary said.

Rita says her parents had been married for 46 years.

“I know my mother wouldn’t have been strong without my father and my father wouldn’t have been strong without my mother,” she said.

First responders detected more than enough carbon monoxide to kill the couple, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reports. Investigators say a stove in the apartment could have been the source.

“No food in the oven, but the oven was on,” FDNY Deputy Chief James Coyne said.

Neighbors say they were recently given replacement combination smoke/carbon monoxide detectors that were installed by building maintenance workers.

Coyne said it appeared there weren’t any detectors in the elderly couple’s apartment. It’s unclear why the devices for the Crawfords were missing. Managers for the apartment building declined to comment on the matter.

Friend Ghanniyya Green remembered Doris as “very soft-spoken, very kind, very loving, always wanting to extend themselves.”

“When she could try to help somebody, that’s the way she was,” she told 1010 WINS’ Samantha Liebman.

The couple was involved with the church — Doris as a church mother, and John as a member of the men’s choir.

Doris was also a member of the tenant’s board in her apartment building.

“It’s very sad,” family friend Loree Maynard said. “And to be on resurrection day, it’s even sadder.”

Family and friends tell CBS2 that finding strength to move on will come from remembering the couple’s long lasting love, their service to others, and by reminding everyone that having working detectors can save lives.

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