Hotel Horror: Carbon Monoxide Blamed for Deaths at Best Western

Exposure to the deadly gas killed at least two guests at the hotel nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains, but authorities are still unsure how it seeped into their guest room.

  • Share
  • Read Later

Three guests at this Best Western hotel in Boone, North Carolina were found dead in their rooms over the past two months. Blood tests on the first two, an elderly couple, indicated carbon monoxide poisoning.

The story had all the trappings of a horror movie. Two months ago, the unexpected death of an elderly couple in their Boone, N.C. hotel room raised eyebrows in the small town nestled in the scenic Blue Ridge mountains. The incident faded from mind, but when an 11-year-old boy was found dead Saturday in the very same hotel room, it became much more than a coincidence.

Jeffrey Lee Williams, the young boy, died Saturday in room 225 of the Best Western Plus Blue Ridge Plaza. The cause of death was determined to be asphyxia, meaning his lungs couldn’t get enough oxygen. Williams, from Rock Hill, S.C., died spontaneously, and his 49-year-old mother was hospitalized in critical condition — circumstances strangely similar to that of Daryl Dean Jenkins, 73, and Shirley Mae Jenkins, 72, from Longview, Wash., who were found dead in the same room on April 16.

When questions quickly began swirling about the seemingly haunted hotel room, police explained that an initial test on Saturday showed a high amount of poisonous gas in the room. “During the emergency medical response, a presumptive test indicated an elevated level of carbon monoxide in the room,” said Boone Police Sgt. Shane Robbins. A toxicology analysis sent to the North Carolina state medical examiner is still pending, Robbins said.

(MORE:  Baby Products Contain Toxic or Untested Chemicals. Are They a Danger?)

The case investigation is slowly moving forward. Boone police said at a news conference on Monday that initially inconclusive blood tests on the couple had finally come back, revealing the cause of death as carbon monoxide poisoning. Police didn’t give an explanation for the two-month delay in getting the results — which could have led to the closing of the hotel long before Williams’ death.

While the source of the carbon monoxide is still uncertain, the hotel’s infrastructure may hold some clues. Room 225 is directly above the room housing a natural gas heater for the hotel’s swimming pool. Documents obtained by the Charlotte Observer show a Watauga County Health Department report indicating deficiencies in the pool. An inspection found that the pool did not meet industry standards and that its chemical and equipment room needed improved ventilation. Police said they were not aware of the inspection. However, there is no indication that the toxic gas harmed anyone else who stayed in the room between the deaths of the Jenkinses and Williams.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that, when inhaled, can cause loss of consciousness or even death as it starves the respiratory system of oxygen, according to the Centers for Disease Control website. It can come from several sources including gas engines and heating systems. As many as 500 deaths per year nationwide are caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, the Environmental Protection Agency says. But three in a single hotel room?

North Carolina requires carbon monoxide detectors in homes and apartments, but no such rule exists for hotels. The small town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains is a popular rural getaway that’s realized a tourism boom — including multimillion-dollar developments like the 73-room Best Western hotel — in the past few decades. The hotel was built in 2000.

Boone Police Chief Dana Crawford told reporters that examiners from the state board overseeing plumbing, heating and fire sprinkler contractors will be at the hotel on Wednesday to investigate. The hotel has been closed since Saturday and is under the control of authorities, Crawford said.


"North Carolina requires carbon monoxide detectors in homes and apartments, but no such rules exists for hotels." That's a joke?! A $20 CO detector would have avoid the death of 3 peoples and poisoning I don't known how many. Personally I will avoid the state of North Carolina and the Best Western hotel.

"However, there is no indication that the toxic gas harmed anyone else who stayed in the room between the deaths of the Jenkinses and Williams." That another joke! Why carbon monoxide should stop to emit? Sure other person was poisoned but they just didn't die. You maybe don't die from carbon monoxide poisoning but you can have life brain damage.

If you have or had pain, brain problem, nervous problem since you have been in this hotel, consult a medical specialist and go to see a lawyer.

HannahTrefz 1 Like

I am one of those twelve girls that were at the pool party. Almost everyone was so sick. I was lucky enough to be one of the few without symptoms but that was because I arrived to the party late. The birthday girl's oldest sister, opened a window hoping to give the sick girls some fresh air. If she hadn't opened the window what would have happened to some of us? Why were we aloud to stay in a room right after two people had unexplainably died? Most importantly, after parents told the workers about a bunch of sick girls, why did they not react?

Badgerboy 1 Like

On Friday, April 19, a pool party sleepover was held in the same room 225 with 9 local 12 year old girls.  ALL of the girls who were sleeping over, 7 of the 9, got very sick with severe headache/nausea, and had to leave.  I personally spoke with staff of the hotel who failed to relate any of the facts concerning previous illnesses/deaths in the room.  Now we find out that after at least 2 deaths and 7 violent illnesses, all of which were known to the staff, another life is lost in the same room.  Such a heartbreaking, preventable tragedy.  I imagine lots of people are scrambling right now to cover their behinds.

Jeanette 1 Like

"the unexpected death of an elderly couple in their Boone, N.C. hotel room raised eyebrows in the small town......The incident faded from mind....."

Really???? Did TIME just completely miss the whole senselessness of this tragedy? IT DIDN'T RAISE EYEBROWS - THAT'S THE PROBLEM! The public never knew about the first incident, and authorities didn't go Hmmmmm?!?! or raise a finger to possibly prevent the third death.

Your Hotel Horror headline trivializes this tragedy and is an insult to the victims and their families.

Good thing TIME doesn't have many readers.

BiancaSmart 1 Like


My friends and I stayed in the EXACT same hotel room and after swimming in that pool for a few hours, we all got very sick with pounding headaches. Almost everyone threw up and many of us went home early. Very creepy.

riccismiles 1 Like

So, am I understanding this correctly? the "authorities" dont want to run with the carbon monoxide poisoning issue? I guess this is a GOP state where science doesnt mean as much as "a haunting". The families should be ready and able to SUE.