Autopsy Results For Bakersfield Doctor Found In Chimney Flue

Dr. Jacquelyn Kotorac's Death Ruled Mechanical Asphyxia

A doctor who was found in a chimney flue died as a result of mechanical asphyxia and the manner of death is an accident, according to the Kern County Coroner's Office.

Around 9 p.m. on Saturday, officers with the Bakersfield Police Department went to a home in the 4300 block of La Mirada Drive on reports of a dead woman found lodged in a fireplace flue.


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  • Around 10:15 p.m. on Aug. 25, police said 49-year-old Dr. Jacquelyn Kotarac tried to force her way inside the home on La Mirada Drive where she was involved in an "on-again, off-again" relationship with the homeowner.

    Kotarac first tried to get into the house with a shovel, then climbed a ladder to the roof last Wednesday night, removed the chimney cap and slid feet first down the flue, DeGeare said.

    While she was trying to break in, the man she was pursuing escaped unnoticed from another exit "to avoid a confrontation," authorities said.

    DeGeare said the two were in an "on-again, off-again" relationship.

    The man's identity was not revealed by police, but the man who resides in the home is William Moodie, 58.

    "She made an unbelievable error in judgment and nobody understands why, and unfortunately she's passed away," Moodie told The Associated Press. "She had her issues -- she had her demons -- but I never lost my respect for her."

    Reached by telephone, Moodie did not dispute the police's characterization of his relationship with Kotarac. He would not comment on the circumstances that led to her death, saying it was more important to focus on the good she did in life.

    Moodie, who runs an engineering consulting firm, said Kotarac was a superb internist who often provided service and medication free of charge to her patients.

    Kotarac apparently died in the chimney, but her body was not discovered until a house-sitter noticed a stench and fluids coming from the fireplace Saturday, according to a police statement. The house-sitter and her son investigated with a flashlight and found Kotarac dead, wedged about two feet above the top of the interior fireplace opening.

    Firefighters spent five hours late Saturday dismantling the chimney and flue from outside the home to extract Kotarac's body, DeGeare said.

    Officials said Kotarac's office staff reported her missing two days prior when she failed to show for work. Her car and belongings remained near the man's house.

    Kotarac died as a result of mechanical asphyxia and the manner of death was an accident, according to the Kern County Coroner's Office.

    Ray Pruitt, PIO with the Kern County Sheriff's Department, said that this means her chest compressed to the point that she was no longer able to breathe.

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