BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (CBS/AP/KBAK) Dr. Jacquelyn Kotarac, a woman who apparently tried to force her way into her "on-again, off-again" boyfriend's home by sliding down the chimney, died of mechanical asphyxia, according to autopsy results released Tuesday.
Kotarac's decomposing body was found in the chimney three days after the attempt, reportedly by someone house-sitting at the address.
According to police, the 49-year-old woman 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.
It is unknown if Kotarac was drunk when she apparently tried to force her way into her boyfriend's home, but Bakersfield police Sgt. Mary DeGeare said Kotarac had been drinking earlier that evening at a restaurant.
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.
The body was found Saturday night, by the house-sitter, who was at the house to care for the homeowner's fish. The person smelled the woman's body and found her stuck about 2 feet above the interior opening of the fireplace.
Firefighters spent five hours late Saturday dismantling the chimney and flue from outside the home to extract Kotarac's body, DeGeare said.