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Police ID sisters found dead in Whittier St. home

ST. LOUIS – Investigators with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department have identified the sisters who were found dead in their north city home Tuesday morning.

According to a police spokesperson, authorities responded to a call around 9:30 a.m. in the 3100 block of Whittier Street of the Greater Ville neighborhood, near Natural Bridge.

The women were discovered by a boyfriend. One of the women was on the bed, while the other was located on the floor next to the bed. The boyfriend said he noticed blood coming from the mouth of one of the sisters, that’s when he called 911.

The sisters were identified as 55-year-old Ruth Portegee and 49-year-old Loretta Portegee.

Firefighters dressed in hazardous materials suits when they went into the home. They were taking precautions because authorities detected a potentially deadly gas called hydrogen cyanide in the home.

The colorless gas is extremely poisonous and may smell like old sneakers. Many people can’t detect the smell.

Initially, St. Louis Fire Department officials said there were no obvious signs of trauma on the bodies. However, St. Louis police later said Ruth Portegee suffered a fatal gunshot wound. They found no gunshot wounds on Loretta Portegee’s body.

Neighbors said Ruth cared for Loretta, who was disabled, and said that she recently lost her job and seemed depressed, which is why they suggested she see a doctor.

The St. Louis Bomb and Arson Squad will continue to lead the investigation, police said.