On April 4, the day her baby girl was to turn 6, Tyisha Chambers texted her ex-husband.
She asked to speak with her youngest daughter, Tybreyia Todd. Chambers hadn’t lived with her children for three years, but on their birthdays, she always talked to them.
Her text went unanswered. Two days later, Chambers got the news about seven of her children, including Tybreyia.
“I don’t know if she made 6,” Chambers said Wednesday.
Along with her ex-husband, Rodney Todd, 36, the five girls and two boys had all been found dead in their tiny rented ranch house in Princess Anne, about 60 miles from her own home in Denton, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Investigators determined that Todd and his children had died in their sleep from the carbon monoxide produced by a generator he set up to power the 1,056-square-foot home. He had apparently been relying on the machine since Delmarva Power discovered what it described as a “stolen electric meter” attached to the home and removed it on March 25.
“When they told me, I felt like I died,” Chambers said. “In the last two days, I may have gotten a total of five hours of sleep. When I wake up, I think, ‘Is this happening? God, you could’ve taken me and not my babies.’ No matter how good or bad a person the world perceives me as, I would sell my soul to trade places with my babies.”
Lost were her boys Cameron, 13, and Zhi’Heem Todd, 7; and her girls Tyjuziana, 15; Ty’Keria, 12; Ty’Nijuzia, 11; Ty’Niah, 9; and Tybreyia Todd.
Last year, Chambers, 36, ended her tumultuous marriage to Todd, who at times had fought violently with her. In 2011, Chambers accused him of stabbing her in the face. He was later convicted of second-degree assault and spent a year in jail and 18 months on probation.
On Wednesday, the scar still showed on her chin. But Chambers, tall and thin and dressed in black, refused to speak ill of him.
“Their dad was a good father to them,” she said. “He was my ex-husband. And I truly loved him.”
Her only surviving child, 17-year-old Rodney Todd Jr., was named after his stepfather.
“He said he is naked without his siblings,” she said. “He misses his stepdad. He wishes he were still here. “
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SOURCE: The Washington Post
DeNeen L. Brown and John Woodrow Cox