Woman’s body found by person delivering newspaper

Posted at 1:20 PM, Mar 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-27 17:53:35-04

HOLLAND, Mich. — Initially thought to be suspicious, the death of a woman who was discovered outside her home by someone delivering newspapers has been ruled accidental.

The body of 64-year-old Betty Vredeveld was discovered a few hundred feet from her home on Apple Ave. near a neighboring assisted living home around 4:30 Sunday morning, according to the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office.

Someone delivering the morning newspaper made the unusual discovery and called 911, police said.

An autopsy conducted Monday determined the Vredeveld died of hypothermia after wandering from her home overnight, according to Capt. Mark Bennett with the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office.

The woman's death was originally thought to be suspicious, given where she was found.

"This death was an accident," Bennett said. "It appears to be an unfortunate medical event where this woman, for some reason, left her home and wasn’t able to get back in and unfortunately wasn’t able to alert anyone else."

Bennett said the woman had been suffering from medical issues recently which likely contributed to mental health issues that caused her to wander from her home.

Holland City Police requested assistance from the sheriff's department, citing the victim had "a close relationship with a retired civilian City employee."

Bennett said that move was made out of an abundance of caution to avoid any potential conflicts from arising in the investigation of the death as the retired employee had been the last person to see Vredeveld alive.