Police said the pair apparently succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning.
“That's my auntie's house,” Yvette Hudson said, pointing to the yellow wood-framed home sitting underneath a tall Sycamore tree.
Ms. Hudson said she and other family members went to the home Tuesday because they had not heard from Ms. Pettigrew for several days.
“I tried the front screen, and it was locked, so I went around to the back and the door, that door, was locked. We knocked and knocked, but no one answered,” she said.
Ms. Hudson said as she went back to the front of the house, she decided to reach through the screen to try the front door, and it opened.
“I saw my auntie lying on the floor on her back in front of the bathroom, and some man lying on top of her,” she said.
Tyler police spokesman Don Martin said police were called to the home at 3:03 p.m. Tuesday with a report of two deceased individuals.
“Right now we're treating this as a suspicious, but the investigation is in its early stages,” he said earlier Tuesday.
Crime scene investigators and detectives with crimes against persons, along with Texas Rangers, were on scene to conduct the investigation.
Sgt. Paul Robeson said the pair had been operating a gasoline-powered generator in the home, and it was believed they died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Robeson said autopsies were ordered to confirm the cause of death.
“The Tyler Police Department would like to remind everyone about the dangers of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide gas is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. It is also poisonous and can lead to death,” he said in a statement.
Devices that emit carbon monoxide should not be used in homes, police said. It is also recommended that all homes have carbon monoxide detectors installed.
Ms. Hudson and other family members described Ms. Pettigrew as a loving woman who went to Rosedale Baptist church.
“She was a fun loving woman who would help anyone,” she said.
Updated Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 9:48 a.m. CST