An Aitkin area couple died in their home Monday as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.
John William Foster, 80, and Marjorie Hansen Foster, 77, were found dead in their home on Mille Lacs Lake's north side. An Aitkin County deputy discovered the bodies about 11 p.m. Monday.
Aitkin County Sheriff Dennis Landborg said the deputy went to the house after receiving a call from a concerned family member. It is unclear at this time when the deaths occurred. The last time family members spoke to the couple was on New Year's Day. The sheriff's department did not find neighbors who reported seeing the couple after New Year's Day. Landborg said the furnace, fueled by propane, was out when the deputy arrived at the home and it was cool inside. Both Landborg and Aitkin Undersheriff Scott Turner said the house may have been robbed of oxygen, which the furnace would also need to keep running.
Turner, who was at the house, said the couple was found in the same general part of the home that created a large bedroom area. They were dressed in night clothes. There was no indication either John or Marjorie Foster tried to call for help. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer. Turner said it is odorless and sneaks up on its victims making them feel lethargic.
Turner said he did not see a carbon monoxide detector in the home.
"We cannot stress enough the importance of carbon monoxide detectors," Turner said, adding the detectors should be used in any heated place people sleep -- including fish houses.
The couple had "very high levels" of carbon monoxide and could have affected them over a period of time, Landborg said. A family dog also was found dead in a porch area in the residence.
Snowmobile tracks outside the home pointed to the energetic life the couple led. Landborg said neighbors indicated John and Marjorie Foster were snowmobilers and ice anglers.
"They were very active people," he said.
The couple is survived by a son and daughter who live outside the Aitkin area.
Preliminary autopsies to determine the cause of the deaths were conducted by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's office Tuesday. Miller Funeral Home in Fridley is handling service arrangements.
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