Wreaths for each of the seven people whose bodies were discovered inside a Minnesota home over the weekend were left outside the residence Monday, where friends and relatives wept in below-freezing weather and wondered what happened to their loved ones.
Preliminary autopsy results showed the victims who lived together in Moorhead did not die from “any obvious trauma,” but a cause of death has not been determined, police said. Relatives said they have more questions than answers.
Moorhead police identified the victims as 37-year-old Belin Hernandez, 34-year-old Marleny Pinto, 32-year-old Eldor Hernandez Castillo, 19-year-old Mariela Guzman Pinto, 16-year-old Breylin Hernandez, 7-year-old Mike Hernandez and 5-year-old Marbely Hernandez.
Alan Pinto, 14, a cousin who on Monday served as translator for his Spanish-speaking relatives, most of whom immigrated from Honduras, said the family was happy to be in America and to escape the turmoil of their home country. But they said their lives will never be the same after such a tragic loss.
“I’m trying,” Pinto said, when asked how he was holding up. “It’s hard.”
Autopsies were conducted over the weekend by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office in St. Paul. Police said blood samples from the victims have been sent to a lab for further examination.
“I know there is a lot of speculation in the community but our job is to look at all the facts,” Moorhead Capt. Deric Swenson told The Associated Press. “We have ideas about what happened but we don’t have that specific answer.”
The victims were found just before 8 p.m. Saturday by family members conducting a welfare check at the home in south Moorhead. Neighbours said the children were last seen Friday.
There were no signs of violence or forced entry, police said. Authorities were not seeking suspects.
Moorhead is on the Minnesota border next to Fargo, North Dakota, in a metropolitan area of about 230,000 people.