Three people found dead inside a Long Beach apartment may have been overcome by carbon monoxide fumes, authorities said Tuesday.
The bodies were discovered about 7 p.m. Monday by police officers conducting a "welfare check" on people living in the apartment in the 1100 block of Gardena Avenue, said coroner's Assistant Chief Ed Winter.
The bodies were in a state of decomposition, Winter said, and the deaths are being investigated as an accident.
Apartment manager Dioser Quintero said she rented the unit earlier this month to a couple.
Quintero described the unit as a studio apartment with built-in heating. She said no one had seen the man or the woman for several days.
Their cars were getting ticketed on the street, and then people started noticing a smell.
"At first everybody thought it was a dead cat or dead animal in the apartment, but it turned out it was dead bodies," neighbor Edgar Lopez said.
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Long Beach police said it looks like the occupants were using a propane heater for warmth, even though they're not designed for indoor heating. Officer Nancy Pratt said it appears the three people died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
"My mom takes a look like where the window is, and that's when she found a body laying down in the kitchen," Quintero said.
The victims are a man in his 50s, a woman in her 30s and another man whose age is unknown. Their names were not released.
City News Service contributed to this report.