Dr. Jacquelyn Kotarac was in an 'on-off' relationship with William Moodie. Photograph: Felix Adamo/AP
A doctor whose decomposing body was found in a narrow chimney suffocated to death after trying to break into her boyfriend's home, California authorities said yesterday.
The body of Dr Jacquelyn Kotarac was discovered trapped in the chimney on Saturday – three days after she had apparently slid feet first down it into the house of her estranged lover, William Moodie.
According to police in Bakersfield, California, the 49-year-old doctor turned up at his house on the evening of Wednesday 25 August.
Moodie, however, did not want to see her. He left the house through the back door and spent the night elsewhere.
After apparently using a shovel to try to break in through the back door, police believe Kotarac climbed on to the roof with a ladder, removed the chimney cover and slid down the shaft.
Kotarac was reported missing on Thursday when she failed to show up for work, Sergeant Mary DeGeare of Bakersfield police said.
Her body was eventually discovered after a house-sitter noticed the smell coming from the fireplace.
Firefighters spent five hours demolishing the chimney so that they could extract the body, which was wedged about 2ft above the top of the interior fireplace opening.
Yesterday, a spokesman for the Kern County sheriff-coroner said an autopsy had established that Kotarac had suffocated to death.
"The pressure being placed on the chest wouldn't allow her lungs to expand and she suffocated," he said.
Moodie told the a local newspaper that he was still reeling from the shock of what had happened.
"I feel this incredible sense of loss," he told the Bakersfield Californian. "It's very hard to accept the fact that she's gone."
Moodie, 58, declined to comment on what his relationship with Kotarac was at the time of her death. However, he said he was fed up with people commenting on the manner of her death. "She made a horrendously bad decision and paid for it with her life," he said.