Deputies: Woman, teenage son found dead in Kendall

Upon arrival, fire crews from Kendall discovered the bodies of Joan Gilman, 38, and her son Richard 'RJ' Gilman Jr., 14, in an upstairs bedroom. (Photo: Provided to WHAM)

Kendall, N.Y. - The Orleans County Sheriff's office is investigating the deaths of a woman and her 14-year-old son inside a home in Kendall, possibly due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Deputies said they responded to the home on Center Road around 7:30 pm Wednesday for the report of a propane gas leak.

Upon arrival, fire crews from Kendall discovered the bodies of Joan Gilman, 38, and her son Richard 'RJ' Gilman Jr., 14, in an upstairs bedroom.

Deputies said electrical power had been turned off at the duplex a few days ago and that a portable generator was being used along with some propane powered appliances during this period of time.

Cheryl Harper, who lived across the street, said she heard a generator running for a few days, but did not think anything of it. She said RJ was a good friend to her own son.

"We have a 9 year old son and he would go over there and jump on the trampoline for an hour and they'd be over there talking," Harper said. "He's 14 and I think for a 14 year old to take the time to play with an 8 year old over the summer, he was a nice kid. I think all the kids liked him."

A notice was placed on the door, warning other tenants in the multi-family house they could not stay at the property until further notice.

13WHAM News spoke with another tenant at the house who said he did not know what happened.

Sharon Nottingham, a friend of Ms. Gilman, described her as a dedicated mother who lit up every time she spoke about her son.

"She loved him a lot," Nottingham told 13WHAM. "She always talked about him, always."

She said Gilman moved to the area about five years ago from Rhode Island, adding that news of her friend's passing is devastating.

"I said, 'I can't believe it,'" she recounted. "(M)y stomach got knotted, and I couldn't believe it."

A school administrator says RJ was a 9th grade student in the Kendall School District.

Superintendent Julie Christensen said in a statement that RJ had "an infectious sense of humor and an endearing personality."

Each one of us copes with loss and grief differently. Please know that Trauma and Grief Counselors are available at the JSHS today and tomorrow for students and staff from 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. The Kendall community can access counseling support at the Kendall Town Hall on April 19 from noon-3:30 pm and April 20 from 10 am-2 pm. If you need support after these hours, please contact Orleans County Mental Health Care and Crisis Hotline at 585-344-4400. Information on strategies to cope with loss is posted on our website under Parent Resources.

There is no information at this time on funeral arrangements.

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