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South Carolina Elderly Couple Found Dead in Home With Heater at 1,000F


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During a wellness check in South Carolina last week, the lifeless bodies of two elderly people were discovered in their bedroom, where the home’s heater had reached an alarming 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in the victims’ temperatures exceeding 106 degrees, according to police reports.

The officer conducting the wellness check on Jan. 6 entered the home after the family had not been in contact with the elderly couple, 84-year-old Joan Littlejohn and 82-year-old Glennwood Fowler, for three days. Upon entry through the bedroom window, the pair was found deceased in their bed, and no signs of struggle or foul play were evident, a police report said.

The responding officer immediately noted the extreme heat inside the residence. When medics measured the victims’ body temperatures, they surpassed 106 degrees Fahrenheit, the maximum limit on the recording device. According to Mayo Clinic, the average body temperature should range between 97 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit, and temperatures exceeding 104 degrees require immediate cooling and urgent medical attention.

Upon the fire department’s arrival, the interior temperature of the house exceeded 120 degrees, even after being exposed to cold weather for about 20 minutes. The police report mentioned that when inspecting the basement where the heater and hot water heater were located, firefighters observed the heater’s temperature exceeding 1,000 degrees, giving the appearance that the basement was “on fire.”

Spartanburg Coroner Rusty Clevenger expressed concern about the unusually high temperature in the house, but no foul play was detected. Carbon dioxide levels were not alarming, and the coroner pledged to continue the investigation.

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Upon interviewing the victims’ family, the responding officer learned that both the hot water heater and heater were malfunctioning on the last day the family saw the elderly couple. Attempting to address the cold conditions, the family tampered with the hot water heater, but eventually left the home.

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