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Day of fundraising set for 7 family members found dead in Moorhead

"It's a really sad situation. There aren't so many Latinos in the area. We are a small community," said a local business owner taking part in the fundraising event for the Hernandez-Pinto family.

A barber cuts hair
Andrew Storkamp, owner of Moler Barber College in downtown Fargo, cuts hair Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021. He's planning a fundraising event for the Hernandez-Pinto family on Tuesday, Dec. 28.
C.S. Hagen / The Forum
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MOORHEAD — When Andrew Storkamp heard of the seven deaths in the Hernandez-Pinto family over the weekend, the news hit hard and close to home. Less than two weeks ago he had given haircuts to several family members who died, including one younger boy.

Married to a woman who immigrated from Mexico, Storkamp’s family speaks Spanish in the home. His daughter, Victoria, was good friends with a younger surviving family member who lived next door to the Hernandez-Pinto family.

“He would come over to my house every day after school and play with my daughter,” said Storkamp, who is organizing a fundraising event for the family on Tuesday, Dec. 28, at the Moler Barber College in downtown Fargo.

“It’s a tragic situation that happened,” Storkamp said, adding that his daughter’s friend is “really hurt. He’s so sad.”

On Saturday, concerned relatives checked on the seven family members and found them dead in the twin home at 4403 13th St. S., according to Moorhead police. So far, investigators have not reported a cause of death but have ruled out violence, adding that there is no threat to the public.

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Moorhead family photo
The Hernandez-Pinto family.
Photo via Facebook

Officials declined to comment on speculation that the family died from a gas leak or carbon monoxide poisoning, but did confirm to The Forum that the Moorhead Fire Department was called early Sunday, hours after the bodies were discovered, to the home for a carbon monoxide detector check. It's unclear whether the home had a working carbon monoxide detector.

Police identified the deceased as Belin Hernandez, 37; Marleny Pinto, 34; Breylin Hernandez, 16; Mike Hernandez, 7; Marbely Hernandez, 5; Eldor Hernandez Castillo, 32; and Mariela Guzman Pinto, 19. Belin and Marleny were the parents of Breylin, Mike and Marbely. Eldor was Belin's brother, and Mariella was the niece of Belin and Marleny.

The bodies were sent to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office in St. Paul to determine a cause of death. It's unclear when police will receive the autopsy results.

Two news outlets, Pueblo Nuevo Multimedia and Noticias Digital - Honduras, reported the family was originally from the Honduran town of San Francisco de Yojoa.

The mother of the two brothers who died, Teodora Castillo, is calling for the repatriation of her family’s bodies back to Honduras, according to a video by the Honduran news program Hoy Mismo.

Some of the family members were “the ones who provided the food” for surviving relatives left behind in Honduras, said a man introduced in the Hoy Mismo video as the father , but was not identified by name. The unidentified father also said in Spanish that his children “suffered so much on the trip to America only to die.”

The fundraising event is planned to last from 8:15 a.m. until 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 28, and at $9 a haircut and $15 a straight-razor shave, “100% of the sales will go to the family,” Storkamp said.

“And if you want to donate, come in and donate what you can. People just don’t understand and many times take these people for granted, but they’re coming from horrible stuff,” Storkamp said of the Hernandez-Pinto family’s journey from Central America.

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Already, a Hispanic grocery store and deli in Moorhead, La Unica, and a Twin Cities barber college have promised funds for the family, Storkamp said.

Amy Espinoza, owner of La Unica, said the Hernandez-Pinto family were good customers.

"It's a really sad situation. There aren't so many Latinos in the area. We are a small community. One of them had also just accepted a job out of town, and she was really excited. This is tough," Espinoza said.

She will be bringing sweet and regular tamales to the fundraiser at Moler Barber College, to be sold for $1 a piece.

"When they go in for a haircut, I'm going to have tamales there, hot and ready, and 100% of the proceeds will go to the family," Espinoza said.

The Hernandez-Pinto family was quiet and did everything together, Storkamp said. The family was “Christian, law-abiding,” and the children went to school while the adults stayed at home when not working for a local construction company, he said.

“They were so inviting, they’d do anything to help a friend,” Storkamp said.

Related Topics: MOORHEADMINNESOTA
C.S. Hagen is an award-winning journalist currently covering the education and activist beats mainly in North Dakota and Minnesota.
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