TOLEDO (WTVG) - Seven local children lost both their parents this week, and now, Toledo police are investigating after the couple died of an apparent drug overdose Monday night.
Since the sudden death, friends are stepping up to help the orphaned children, ages 6-15, left behind in this tragedy.
Loved ones said 37-year-old Jennifer Eber and 44-year-old Wayne Lee had a long but often troubled relationship. Despite that, the parents tried to raise their seven kids together as a family.
A devoted mother and a caring friend with a contagious laugh is how Jen Eber's best friends describe her.
"She had seven wonderful children and they were her life," said Casey Wylie.
"She was always smiling, bubbly, happy," said Joy Grogan.
For years now, Wylie and Grogan have worked with Eber as severs at The Hollywood Casino.
"We're a very close knit family. We're very lucky to have each other," said Wylie.
"We called each other 'sis' because we were that close, you know. She considered me her sister and I, her," said Grogan.
But something terrible and unexpected ended the young mother's life Monday.
That's when Eber and Lee's oldest son found his parents unresponsive in an upstairs bedroom in a Toledo home on Superior St.
The police report indicates the 15-year-old went there after his mother didn't pick him up from school.
Friends say that's where Wayne lived, but Jen and the kids lived with a grandparent.
"He is very determined to keep full custody of them, but he's already voiced concerns to me because he's 78-years old," said Grogan.
An official cause of death is pending toxicology reports, but TPD says they're investigating this as a double overdose. Vice detectives are working to determine the type of drugs involved.
But Jen's friends say none of this makes sense.
"Didn't compute. I mean she didn't do drugs. She doesn't do drugs. So, kind of really waiting on that autopsy," said Grogan.
Now, Jen's work family is stepping up to care for the seven children left behind by organizing a GoFundMe page to set up a trust fund.
If Grogan could talk to her best friend just one more time, "I love ya and I miss you and I'm doing my best to make sure that your kids are OK," she said through tears.
They say Eber loved sunflowers. So, in her honor during the interviews Thursday, Wylie wore one in her hair and Grogan dressed in a floral shirt.
"She's one of those people that you meet her and you instantly felt like you were friends. Like best friends and family," said Wylie.