Neighbors say furnace broke after flooding in Detroit home where mother, son were found dead

DETROIT – Police discovered the bodies of an 83-year-old woman and her 61-year-old son inside a home on Detroit’s west side on Tuesday night.

The home is on American Street near West Chicago and I-96. The woman has been identified as Bernice Hankins and her son Jeffrey Hankins.

Arnold lives a couple houses down and said everybody was surprised. Neighbors said the two were good people. Bernice Hankins had lived in the neighborhood for 40 years.

“Quiet and they all kept to themselves and a quiet neighbor,” Arnold said.

Over the past few days the two of them had been more quiet than usual.

“Nobody seen them, they didn’t come out or anything,” Arnold said.

When a neighbor noticed their mail was untouched they called police for a welfare check. They were found dead inside the home with no obvious signs of foul play.

Neighbors said the home flooded recently and their furnace was broken.

“I guess they didn’t get it fixed and they had a portable heater and that last big rain this month, that’s when it must have happened,” Arnold said.

Crime scene investigators collected as much evidence as they could get to the bottom of what happened.

The medical examiner’s office is conducting an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

About the Authors: