Monday, April 14, 2014

Bensalem man charged with homicide in mom's carbon monoxide death

Posted: Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Multiple suicide notes, a running gas generator and packing tape covering vents, windows and doorways were found inside an apartment where a 59-year-old woman was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning Monday night, Bensalem police said.
But her death was no suicide, they added. Her son Koustantinos Yiambilis, 30, killed her and attempted to kill himself, police said.
Yiambilis, who lived with his mother, Karen, at Longmeadow apartments, is charged with homicide, as well as reckless endangerment and risking a catastrophe. District Judge Joseph Falcone arraigned him Tuesday at his bedside at Aria Health Torresdale campus in Philadelphia, where he is being treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.
Bail was denied, and Yiambilis will have a police guard until he is discharged, which could happen Wednesday.
"Gus" Yiambilis and his mom Karen
Police discovered the body of Karen Yiambilis after responding to the Bristol Road apartment complex shortly before 11:30 p.m. for a report of a hazardous situation. Maintenance workers reported the smell of gas emanating from apartment No. 117 and the sound of a machine running inside, according to court papers.
The employees said that they spoke with a man at the apartment about the smell, but he appeared “messed up” and attributed the smell to spilled gas, police said.
Police officers knocked on the apartment door, then windows until Koustantinos Yiambilis answered, according to court documents. He was wearing sweatpants, but no shirt and appeared lethargic and confused, police said.
Inside, the officers immediately noticed a haze throughout the apartment and the smell of exhaust fumes, according to a probable cause affidavit. When police asked Yiambilis if anyone else was inside, he said that his mom was sleeping in her bedroom, the court records show.
“Sorry, I spilled gasoline,” he allegedly told the officers.
Yiambilis also told them he had to use a generator inside because the heat was recently shut off, according to police.
Newport Fire Co. firefighters on the scene took a reading of the air quality level inside the apartment and determined the carbon monoxide levels were at “dangerously high” levels, police said. Fire personnel had to wear protective gear to enter. Residents of four nearby apartments were evacuated for two hours until the gas dispersed.
Karen Yiambilis was found unconscious on the bedroom floor and a Chicago Electric 800-watt gas generator was found in the room, police said.
Mother and son were taken to Aria Health where Karen Yiambilis was pronounced dead. The Philadelphia medical examiner performed an autopsy, which found she had a carboxyhemoglobin level of 51 percent, “clearly within the fatal range,” the affidavit shows.
Police said they interviewed a neighbor who said that Koustantinos Yiambilis asked to borrow her portable generator around 7 p.m. Monday to power the lights inside the apartment.
The neighbor told police that she told Yiambilis to run the generator outside and away from the apartment’s air intake, offered him extension cords to run the machine and a chain to prevent it from being stolen, police said.
When police interviewed Yiambilis at the hospital, he told them he borrowed the generator because the apartment heater wasn’t working, according to the affidavit. He told police his neighbor gave him directions for how to safely operate the generator.
Police said when they checked the Yiambilis’ apartment, the power was fully functional, and the heat was also working properly. The thermostat in the house read nearly 70 degrees when police arrived, court documents said.
Police said Yiambilis said he didn’t think running a generator inside an apartment was dangerous.
“I didn’t know it could kill you,” Yiambilis said, according to court documents.
On Tuesday, police executed a search warrant for the Yiambilis apartment and found the suicide notes, gas generators, a gas-powered leaf blower without a gas cap, and packing tape covering vents, doorways and windows to prevent ventilation, the court records show. They also recovered the apartment’s only smoke alarm, which had its battery removed.
Michele Spinelli, who lives three doors from the Yiambilis family, called them friendly neighbors who lived there about three years. She described the mother and son as close.
Spinelli said she regularly spoke with Karen Yiambilis, whom she said worked at a day camp. Koustantinos, who everyone called “Gus,” was friendly with one of Spinelli’s daughters.
Around dinnertime Monday, Spinelli was just arriving home from work when she ran into Karen Yiambilis and they started talking about the weather. She didn’t seem upset or depressed at all, Spinelli said.
Hours later, Spinelli’s daughter woke her up after hearing commotion. When she looked out her window she saw first responders performing CPR on Karen Yiambilis, she said.
“My heart is breaking for Gus. Knowing him, I do not see him intentionally wanting to hurt his mother — not at all,” Spinelli said. “Without his mother he is lost. He was a mama’s boy.”

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