• Two children die after becoming trapped in hope chest


    FRANKLIN, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com/AP) -- A 7-year-old boy and his 8-year-old sister died after getting trapped in a hope chest in their home, authorities said Monday.

    Police tell FOX 25 both children, identified by a family member as being 7- and 8-years-old, were found at a home on Chestnut Street at about 8 p.m.

    A family friend identified the children as Sean and Lexi Munroe.

    David Traub, a spokesperson for the Norfolk County District Attorney's office, says investigators believe one parent was home at the time of the incident. When the second parent arrived home, they went to round up the children and discovered that two of them were missing. That is when they found the siblings inside a hope chest that could only be opened from the outside. The chest was in a bedroom in close proximity to a television that was on at a high volume.

    Investigators are working to determine how long the children were inside the chest. They say the deaths appear to be accidental, but they remain under investigation by officers assigned to the district attorney's office and the Crime Scene Services Section.

    The DA's office said the hope chest was "an older type" made by Lane Furniture and was purchased by the family secondhand more than a decade ago.

    In 1996, Lane recalled 12 million cedar chests (Click here for recall information) with lids that automatically latch shut after receiving reports of six children suffocating inside. In 2000, Lane - in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission - said it was calling for a renewed search for the chests to replace their locks after becoming aware of another suffocation death and two near fatalities.

    Traub said it was not immediately clear if the chest owned by the family was included in that recall. The recall covered all Lane and Virginia Maid brand cedar chests manufactured between 1912 and 1987.

    Messages left at the headquarters of Heritage Home Group, which now owns Lane, were not immediately returned Monday.

    A message on Lane's website says it has provided new locks free of charge that don't automatically latch when the lid is closed. The company said chests made after 1987 have the new safety locks.

    Franklin Public School officials released a statement Monday morning expressing their grief over the loss of the two elementary school students.

    "The administration of the Franklin Public Schools received confirmation this morning that two of our elementary students passed away in a tragic accident on Sunday," read the statement. "This is a sad and tragic event and our thoughts, prayers and sympathy go out to the family, friends and all those affected."

    The school planned to have a crisis team available for students, parents, and faculty in need of counseling.

    Autopsies will be performed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to determine the cause and manner of death.

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