Report: Las Cruces Woman Died From Smoke Inhalation

Melting plastic appears to be the source of toxic fumes that caused the death of a 41-year-old woman who was found in her apartment last week.

Penny Padilla, who resided at 1130 La Fonda Dr., was found dead in her apartment on the evening of Thursday, Jan. 3. Las Cruces police and fire investigators were called to look into the circumstances of her death and located a toaster and pans inside the kitchen’s oven.

Plastic handles from the pans and parts of the toaster were found melted inside the electric oven.

Evidence from the scene seems to indicate that Padilla turned the stove on to prepare a meal but failed to remove the plastic items from the oven. Police and fire investigators found evidence of smoke around the electric oven’s door but no signs that there was ever a fire.

The New Mexico medical investigator’s office determined that Padilla died as a result of smoke inhalation.

Residents are reminded to refrain from storing items inside stoves, and remove unused and combustible items from the oven prior to baking or broiling.