Death of 5-year-old twins in Bronx apartment remains a mystery

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Two days after their mother discovered 5-year-old twins dead and foaming at the mouth in their Bronx apartment, authorities still don't know how they died.

The boy and girl were found dead Monday morning in a bed they shared with their mother in the family's sixth-floor apartment in the Mount Hope neighborhood, police officials said.

Police said there were no visible signs of trauma on their bodies and officers who arrived at the apartment found no weapons or narcotics that could suggest criminal action.

Julie Bolcer, a spokeswoman for the New York City coroner's office, said the children's bodies were examined Tuesday, but the cause and manner of their deaths require further study.

The twins, both with special needs, had been sick in recent weeks, according to Joseph Kenny, chief of detectives for the New York Police Department. The boy vomited at school on Nov. 30 and was sent home. Then, on December 12, he had a runny nose and other cold-like symptoms and was sent home again.

The mother, whose name has not been identified by police, also told officers that her daughter had recently had an ear infection, had vomited and had been biting and spitting at school, Chief Kenny said.

The mother did not take her children to the doctor, Chief Kenny added.

To friends and neighbors, there were no signs that anything was wrong in the family home. They told police the mother was loving: The twins were well dressed and well fed, attended school, had toys and played in the building.

No cases of child abuse or domestic violence have been reported, Deputy Chief Benjamin Gurley, commander of the Bronx patrol, said at a news conference Monday.

The last time the mother said she saw the children alive was around 5 a.m. Monday at their apartment on East 175th Street near Monroe Avenue, Chief Kenny said. She woke up around 11:20 am and found them stiff and cold.

The mother said she immediately called 911 and began performing CPR. First responders continued life-saving measures at the apartment, but the children were pronounced dead at 11:30 a.m.

Shortly after, the mother was transported to an area hospital for evaluation. “She's emotionally distraught,” Chief Gurley told reporters Monday. The father, a health aide who had been at work overnight and was not home, spoke to officers at the 46th Precinct.

Candi McDonald, 38, who lives next door to the family, said the mother's screams had woken her up. Surprised, she left her apartment and found the neighbors gathered in the hallway. They were comforting her mother, who was sitting sobbing on the stairs.

Mrs. McDonald asked what had happened. A moment later she understood: she saw the agents in the woman's apartment and the lifeless child on the floor. “It's just sad,” she said. “I feel terrible.”

On Monday afternoon, neighbors spoke kindly of the mother and wondered what had happened.

Maira Bonet, 50, who lives on the block, said the mother once gave Bonet's daughter a tablet for her birthday. Mrs. Bonet thanked them by giving the twins clothes, remote-controlled cars and dolls.

When Bonet heard Monday that the children were dead, he screamed.

dakota santiago contributed reports.



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