|"Gus" Yiambilis and his mom Karen|
Monday, April 14, 2014
Neighbor: Deceased Bensalem mom, not son, got generator
Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014
The neighbor of a Bensalem man accused in the carbon monoxide death of his mother claims that she never told police that the son asked to borrow her gas generator hours before his mom was found dead.
Karen Linsalata says that it was the mother, Karen Yiambilis, not her son Koustantinos “Gus” Yiambilis, who asked her not once, but twice to borrow the generator claiming their electric heat had been shut off. Linsalata also says that she did not speak with the son until she instructed both of them on how to use the generator.
“It was all Karen,” she added.
Her claims contradict what Detective Jack Gohl Jr. wrote in a probable cause affidavit filed in Bensalem District Court, but Gohl said Wednesday that what he wrote is an accurate account of her statement.
Gohl said a lawyer representing Yiambilis informed him Wednesday that Linsalata is refuting that version of events. But the detective said what he wrote is accurate as far as Linsalata’s original statement. He added that he had not spoken to Linsalata since taking her statement Monday at Longmeadow apartments the night the 59-year-old woman died of carbon monoxide poisoning, a result of a running generator in the family’s apartment.
In the affidavit, Koustantinos “Gus” Yiambilis also told police that he borrowed the generator because his heater wasn’t working when he was interviewed at his hospital bedside. Police say the power and heat were both working in the apartment.
The 30-year-old is charged with criminal homicide, recklessly endangering another person and risking a catastrophe. He is in Bucks County prison without bail after being released from the hospital where he was treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.
Neighbors at the Bristol Road complex, including Linsalata, who knew the Yiambilises, have speculated the two devised a suicide pact. In court documents, Bensalem police say they found multiple suicide notes in their apartment, but didn’t release the notes’ content.
When police investigated reports of gas fumes and machine noise at the Yiambilis apartment late Monday, they allege that Gus Yiambilis answered the door looking lethargic and confused. They noticed a haze throughout the apartment and the smell of exhaust fumes, court documents show.
Yiambilis said his mom was asleep in the bedroom, where police also found a Chicago Electric 800-watt gas generator running. The family’s two dogs were also found in the apartment alive.
Air quality readings in the apartment found dangerously high carbon monoxide levels. Residents in four nearby apartments were evacuated for two hours until the gas dispersed. An autopsy found Karen Yiambilis had a carboxyhemoglobin level of 51 percent, “clearly within the fatal range,” police said.
In the probable cause affidavit, Gohl said Linsalata told him that Gus Yiambilis asked to borrow her portable gas generator to power lights inside the apartment. She retrieved the generator from storage and gave it to him around 7 p.m., according to court documents.
Linsalata, who lived next door to the mother and son, described them as close friends. She added that not only did Karen ask to borrow the generator in person but also in text messages about 10 a.m. Monday. But the machine was in storage and her boyfriend wouldn’t return until around 4 p.m., she said she told her friend.
Karen Yiambilis asked again around lunchtime, Linsalata added. She also borrowed $40 telling Linsalata that her son had a paycheck coming.
Later Monday afternoon, Linsalata and her boyfriend dropped off the generator at the Yiambilis apartment, and Karen thanked her for loaning it to them, Linsalata added. She said she explained to both how to safely operate the machine, and gave them an extension cord and chain to prevent someone from stealing it.
The dropoff was the first, and only, time she saw Gus Yiambilis that day, she added.
The two had fallen on hard financial times recently, Linsalata added. Gus Yiambilis had lost his job on April 4 and Karen lost her job at a day camp a few months earlier, she said.
“From there it was so downhill,” she added. “These were people who were down and people just kept kicking them.”
Bensalem police allege that they found, among other evidence, packing tape covering vents, windows and doorways in the apartment when they executed a search warrant. But Linsalata said she saw no signs of depression recently among either Yiambilis.
“She was always up and bubbly,” Linsalata said.
She also called Karen Yiambilis a neighborhood fixture always socializing with people. She drove Linsalata’s dad to church every Sunday, then dropped him at the Neshaminy Mall. Linsalata described Yiambilis as very religious, attending a Christian church off Hulmeville Road.
“She would say, ‘God only gives you what he thinks you can handle.’ I’m heartbroken. They had to plan this out. They lied to me. They knew 150 percent not to bring it into the house,” Linsalata added. “They were so close. He would never, ever harm a hair on her head. They loved each other so much. She was his rock.”