A Middleburgh woman was found dead outside her Brooky Hollow Road home Thursday afternoon apparently the victim of hypothermia after being exposed to the brutally cold conditions on New Year’s Day.
The body of Margaret M. Ortiz, 48, was discovered in the front yard of 114 Brooky Hollow Road at about 2pm, said Schoharie County Sheriff John Bates.
The death was originally treated as suspicious but after an autopsy was conducted at Albany Medical Center Hospital on Saturday, Dr. Michael Sikirica determined that death was due to hypothermia caused by exposure, the Sheriff said.
Sheriff Bates said that Ms. Ortiz lived at the home with Andrew Sepe, 45, for three to four years.
Mr. Sepe, the Sheriff said, left the home around 1am on New Year’s Day while Ms. Ortiz remained home.
Mr. Sepe was involved in an accident on Route 145 in Franklinton shortly before 2am on New Year’s Day when he rolled his pickup truck, Sheriff Bates said.
Mr. Sepe suffered minor lacerations to his left arm and complained of neck pain, said the Cobleskill State Police. He was taken to Cobleskill Regional Hospital and stayed overnight. He faces driving while intoxicated charges in the accident and is due back in Broome court on January 27.
He took a taxi back to the Brooky Hollow Road home on Thursday afternoon and discovered Ms. Ortiz’ body in the front yard around 2pm, Sheriff Bates said.
The investigation is continuing but the Sheriff said that it appears at this time that the death was accidental.
Police said the case remains open and investigators are awaiting toxicology results to determine is alcohol was a factor in the woman’s death.
The woman, Sheriff Bates said, was “not properly dressed for being outside” and it was “horribly bitter cold” on Thursday as temperatures struggled to reach 10-degrees and were much lower overnight.
He said he did not know how long the woman was outside the home.
The Sheriff’s office was assisted by the State Police BCI, and the State Police Forensic Unit.
County Coroner Matthew Coltrain responded to the scene, removed the body and ordered an autopsy.