Family exposed to deadly carbon monoxide levels, blames landlord for not making repairs

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Updated: Dec. 2, 2021 at 10:30 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A North County mother’s nightmare began when her and her four children were exposed to carbon monoxide last month. The gas is deadly and can go undetected without proper at-home testing devices.

The woman is blaming her landlord for putting the family in harm’s way.

“It really was a nightmare,” ChaRita Jones said.

Jones has been renting a home on Duke Drive near Moline Acres in St. Louis’ North County for the last several months. She said on Nov.19 her oldest daughter was the first to wake up around 3 a.m. with complaints of nausea and confusion.

“I called 911 and she was just incoherent, kept drifting off. She ended up having a seizure, she started shaking and stuff. My 7-year-old came out of her room, walked down the hall, passed out,” Jones recalled.

Jones said Metro North Fire, EMS and St. Louis County Police arrived to her home quickly that night. She said EMS personnel told her and her family they were experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure.

Metro North Fire Chief, Dave Volz, said the Jones’ home had more than 400 parts per million (ppm) of carbon monoxide detected that night. He said they’re lucky to have woken up. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said a person shouldn’t be exposed to more than 50 ppm of carbon monoxide in an 8-hour period.

“We was in the hospital on oxygen masks for hours, hours, hours,” Jones said.

Jones shared the below notice from Spire which shows inspectors found the home’s furnace had a crack in the combustion chamber, which likely caused the high levels of carbon monoxide.

Jones said she turned to her landlord, Sandra Parker, for help. Jones said Parker wouldn’t replace the furnace and wasn’t being responsive to calls or text messages. For the last two weeks, Jones and her family have been living in a hotel which is costing them $100 a night. Jones said Parker only paid for one night’s stay.

When Jones first signed the lease to rent Parker’s home on Duke Drive, Jones said she paid everything up front with the help of federal COVID relief. She said she paid rent through March 2022. She’s asked Parker for her payment back, and said she hasn’t gotten a response.

Thursday, St. Louis County Inspectors put a notice on Jones’ front door deeming the home uninhabitable.

Dave Wrone, spokesperson for St. Louis County’s Public Works and Transportation Division, told News 4 they can’t find a record of the Duke Drive home ever having a re-occupancy inspection performed. According to county ordinance 27617, it must be done before anyone lives in a home. Wrone said the inspection requires a test of carbon monoxide detecting devices.

Jones said she isn’t shocked to see the house deemed uninhabitable because of the lack of re-occupancy inspection. She still seeks answers.

News 4 went to Parker’s home Thursday. After identifying who we were, she refused to open the door or answer any of our questions.

After searching through St. Louis County and City records, the only property Parker owns is the home Jones is renting on Duke Drive. Records show Parker hasn’t fully paid taxes on that property since 2018. As of 2021, the St. Louis County Assessor’s Office has the home rated as “poor”.

“What I want done is for landlords to be held accountable. Of course, I would love to have my money back for the time I’m not here,” Jones said.

Jones went back to her home this week to collect valuables she had left behind from Nov. 19, when they left the home in a hurry. When she tried to open the door, she found her keys weren’t working. Jones said she believes Parker changed the locks despite having a lease and an upfront rent payment through March 2022.

“This has been a total shock. I really don’t have a plan. I reached out to 201, United Way, Salvation Army, no one really has assistance, really has help. I applied for Beyond Housing and things of that nature, so moving forward, we just really day by day,” Jones said.

Jones said she’s willing to pay the fee to have the home re-occupancy inspection completed. However, until the furnace is replaced, Jones said Spire recommended they not live in the home.

News 4 is working to find out what Parker is legally responsible for when it comes to finances and payments made. To donate to the Jones family, click here.