Despondent couple found dead in their Bellefontaine, Ohio home

© Columbus Dispatch
Charcoal grills taken from the bedroom of Randolph and Jodi Spiedel

Neighbors said they seldom noticed the couple in the little house at 225 W. High Ave. Yet the two were desperately reaching out for help.

In a listing on this year, Jodi Speidel wrote that both she and her husband, Randy, had chronic illnesses and had been living without gas heat all winter and without water for a week. With $33 in savings, she said, they were eating one meal a day and didn't have scraps left for their two cats.

"I have turned in every direction possible and don't know what else to do," she wrote. "If you can help, we will be forever grateful and will even pay you back once we get back on our feet."

No one responded on that website or a similar post on

On Tuesday, the Speidels' landlord found a pink note on the front door of the one-bedroom house warning visitors about carbon monoxide inside.

The couple had taken two charcoal grills into their bedroom; locked the door; and, amid smoldering coals, died of carbon-monoxide poisoning. A suicide note indicates that both had agreed. She was 46 years old and he was 45. The deaths upset neighbors who said they could have offered help had they known.

"It's heartbreaking, like they didn't feel like they had anything," said Danielle Smith, 21, who lives across the street from the house where the Speidels died. "I wish I knew them better because I could have helped them."

One of their daughters, Kira Speidel, 20, in a post last month on, called her parents "the hardest-working people I know, and now that they literally cannot work anymore, they have nowhere to turn to."

People gathered at the W. High Avenue house on Wednesday. A man who said he was Kira Speidel's boyfriend said she was too upset to talk to a reporter.

Several cats prowled the yard; apparently the couple had put them outside before taking their own lives. A police officer confirmed that no animals were found inside.

Bellefontaine Police Chief Brandon Standley called the deaths "a planned event ... a choice they both had made."

Standley said the couple showed compassion by putting up the warning signs on both the front and back doors of the house. "What we're trying to get our minds wrapped around is what led up to this."

The chief said the couple likely could have benefited from community resources, including housing for the homeless.

In one of her posts, however, Mrs. Speidel said they had applied for some assistance and were waiting to hear back. She also said she'd used food banks, but had trouble cooking without water.

Contacted by phone on Wednesday, their landlord, Doug Elleman, didn't want to talk about the situation.

"It's clearly tragic ... that someone results in thinking there's nowhere else to turn," Standley said.

Clergy members in town also are struggling with the deaths.

The Rev. Aaron Francis, associate pastor at First United Methodist Church, said the couple's apparent "utter hopelessness" might have been overcome in a more tight-knit community.

"We have become such a disassociated and anti-social society that we don't even know our own neighbors," he said.