MIAMI — On the wall was a President Supermarkets calendar with a kitten on the cover, and the days X'ed out, one by one.
In the bedroom, two women -- a mother and her adult daughter -- lay in side-by-side beds covered in blankets. Near the front door was the man of the house, Daniel Boli-Gbagra.
Like the women -- his wife and stepdaughter -- Boli-Gbagra, 48, was dead, wasted away in what police say appears to have been a case of slow, collective starvation.
Boli-Gbagra, apparently the last to die, had stuffed clothes under the door frame.
In the white-tiled, one-bedroom Miami apartment were books and hand-scrawled notes attesting to the family's devotion to a sect that believes in extraterrestrial beings and human cloning. As their lives flickered out, they wrote vivid, rambling letters in French invoking their faith and cataloging their physical and mental state.
To homicide investigators, death is a part of everyday life. They are summoned when a corpse is discovered and attempt to piece together the puzzle.
The strange deaths of Boli-Gbagra, his wife Magali Gauthier, 48 and her 23-year-old daughter, Tara Andreze-Louison, have yielded no such closure, just questions that have cops and the staff of the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner's office genuinely perplexed.
``I've not had a case like this,'' said Dr. Emma Lew, Miami-Dade deputy chief medical examiner with 20 years' experience. ``It's a fascinating case.''
Seemingly they just gave up on society, said homicide Detective Roderick Passmore.
``It's one of those cases, when I retire, I'll never know,'' Passmore said.
What police do know about Boli-Gbagra is that he lived a quiet life in what was likely a noisy apartment, situated just off the Airport Expressway and the elevated tracks of the north leg of Metrorail. Cars and trains rumbled past day and night.
A former New York cabbie originally from the Ivory Coast, Boli-Gbagra had relocated by 2007 to South Florida, getting a job at Winn-Dixie in the produce department.
After putting down new roots, he filed for divorce from his then-wife, listing his expenses at $1,200 a month.
On May 4, 2009, Boli-Gbagra married Gauthier, originally from Martinique. A Miami-Dade County deputy clerk performed the civil ceremony.
The two of them and Gauthier's daughter lived at 1860 NW 41st St., Apartment B.
They weren't hermits. Because the family didn't have a car and walked everywhere, people along 41st Street saw them often. Sometimes the women dropped in at the Winn-Dixie where Boli-Gbagra worked. They also frequented the local branch of the public library across from the supermarket.
The women, both coiffed in distinctive Afros, communicated little, however, often not even looking up when neighbors said hi. Sometimes they would walk to the other side of the street to avoid contact.
As for Boli-Gbagra, ``he was quiet, but he liked to talk when people talked to him,'' said Apoleon Louissaint, who trained him for his job at Winn-Dixie.
He favored plantains and boniatos but stayed away from soda.
``He liked to have a diet to clean the inside,'' he said.
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