Cause of death released in ongoing investigation into South Boston apartment incident

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety said in an email Monday night that the cause of death was "Acute intoxication due to the combined effects of cocaine and methamphetamine."

NBC10 Boston

Authorities have released the official cause of death for a person who was found dead in a South Boston apartment in June.

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety said in an email Monday night that the cause of death was "Acute intoxication due to the combined effects of cocaine and methamphetamine." The manner of death was determined to be an accident.



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The Suffolk District Attorney's Office had said previously that it was investigating the death as "an apparent drug overdose."

The June 17 incident on Old Colony Avenue raised questions about transparency and whether the city's police and fire departments are on the same page. It also became a hot-button political issue, with multiple city councilors and even Mayor Michelle Wu weighing in.

NBC10 Boston first reported on the incident on the night of June 20 after obtaining reports from the Boston Fire Department. Two days later, the Boston Police Department put out a statement in direct conflict with the accounts of firefighters.

The fire department's report said six adults "who appeared to be males" were in the apartment — part of the Boston Housing Authority — which "was in extreme unsanitary conditions." It added that firefighters found four children between the ages of 5 and 10 in a back room, hidden by a man.

All of the adults were uncooperative and denied having kids inside, the report from Boston Fire said. But in their statement, the Boston Police Department said the adults inside "were fully cooperative with the Boston Police Officers who responded."

"I can only hope and trust that the mayor's office and all of these first responders are going to come together in an investigation to get the story straight," City Councilor Erin Murphy told NBC10 Boston after a meeting in late June.

Four children were placed in the care of the Massachusetts Department of children and Families amid a death investigation in a Boston Housing Authority apartment in which the accounts of police and firefighters have conflicted.

Citing firefighters, Murphy previously told NBC10 Boston there were "lots of sex toys and drug paraphernalia all over the place." Those details were also disputed by the police statement.

"Information that drugs and other concerning materials were strewn about the home is not supported by what officers encountered or by the information received on the scene," the department wrote.

Mayor Michelle Wu, following criticism for disputing reports from fire officials, said on WBUR that the public shouldn't doubt information coming from the Boston Police Department or the Boston Fire Department.

"There is no reason to question the integrity of any of our agencies and the words they put into those reports. Each one of them works to save lives and ensure the safety of those involved," she said. "There has been additional color and rumor injected into this from other places, and we just want to make sure everyone stays focused on letting everyone do their work."

The Boston Globe reported that Wu had characterized reports about the incident as "conspiracy theories."

The four children were placed in the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.

Conflicting reports from the Boston Fire Department and Boston Police Department at a death investigation at a South Boston apartment are raising more questions than answers.

Kiara, the mother of two of the kids taken from the apartment, spoke with NBC10 Boston after the incident.

"They saw several transgender people, who are my friends, and one dead on the floor from cardiac arrest, they just assumed the worst," Kiara said.

She said the children were being kept away from the dead body, as police had said in their statement. She told NBC10 Boston she "absolutely" believes the Boston Fire Department was lying about the adults being uncooperative.

"Nobody was hiding the kids," she told NBC10 Boston. "We were trying to keep the kids away from the person who was dead on the floor. That's pretty traumatizing."

"The parents and the officers who responded felt it was best for the children to stay in another room with one of the parents and took steps to avoid having the children see the deceased," police said in their statement. "Due to the nature of the call, and to ensure appropriate follow up with the families involved, officers did file a 51A with DCF."

Murphy said the children would not have been put into DCF custody if they were not believed to be in an unsafe situation.

"They had to have had evidence," she said. "A judge is not going to remove children unless there's definite evidence of imminent concern for the safety of those children."

NBC10 Boston reached out to DCF in June to see if the kids were still in state custody, but was told, "due to state and federal privacy there is no further information."

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