The official cause of death for Alicia Witt’s parents has been revealed, months after they were found dead in December. The state medical examiner’s office in Massachusetts just released the death certificates for the Hallmark star’s parents.
Robert Witt, 87, and Diane Witt, 75, were found dead in their Worcester home on December 20 after Alicia Witt asked a family member to do a welfare check on them.
Alicia Witt’s Parents Died of ‘Probable Cardiac Dysrhythmia’
The death certificates for Witt’s parents revealed that they died from “probable cardiac dysrhythmia” caused by cold exposure, Boston.com and Telegram & Gazette reported. The medical examiner did not go into further detail, Boston.com reported.
According to Baptist Health, dysrhythmia occurs when there’s a problem with a heartbeat’s rate or rhythm. This can be an irregular pattern, a slow pattern (bradycardia) or a heartbeat that’s too fast (tachycardia.) Sometimes these can be mild and not life-threatening if treated. Other times, a minor dysrhythmia can be caused by a heart attack, heart disease, an imbalance in electrolytes like sodium or potassium, a heart injury of some sort.
Baptist Health also noted that there is a difference between arrhythmia, which is a more commonly known term, and dysrhythmia. Both refer to a heartbeat rhythm that’s not normal. However, arrhythmia specifically refers to a heartbeat that is too fast or slow. In contrast, dysrhythmia refers to a heartbeat that’s irregular but still within a normal range.
Witt’s parents’ death certificate noted that they had “probable” dysrhythmia.
UC Health reported that cold weather can increase stress on the heart. Extreme cold weather can cause small blood vessels to constrict, which can lead to an increase in blood pressure and heart rate.
Witt Said She Didn’t Know Her Parents’ Heat Had Gone Out
In a post on Instagram and Facebook shared in January, Alicia Witt said she “had no idea that their heat had gone out.”
In December, police speculated that her parents had died from exposure to the cold. Authorities told Boston 25 News at the time that hypothermia might have been the cause of death. One of her parents was wearing a coat when they were both found dead.
Police told the Telegram & Gazette that because of problems with a furnace, the couple had been using a space heater, but there were no signs of carbon monoxide in the home. Some neighbors told Boston 25 that they hadn’t heard about any heating issues at the home, and other neighbors said the couple kept mostly to themselves.
In her social media post, Witt said her parents hadn’t let her inside their home in years and continually turned down her many offers to help, including times when she tried to convince them to move.
“i hadn’t been allowed inside my parents’ home for well over a decade; every time i offered to have something repaired for them, they refused to allow workers into their house,” she wrote. “i begged, cried, tried to reason with them, tried to convince them to let me help them move – but every time, they became furious with me, telling me i had no right to tell them how to live their lives and that they had it all under control. it was not for a lack of trying on my part, or the part of other people who loved them.”
She said they had plenty of money but were “fiercely stubborn, beautifully original souls.”
A neighbor who asked not to be named told Boston Herald that the Witts’ home was in “terrible condition.” The neighbor said Diane Witt was “very frail” and Robert Witt had recently been treated for cancer. The neighbor also said that Alicia Witt had bought them a car, but it was rarely used.
But neighbors also shared a similar story to Alicia Witt’s, speaking of trying to help the couple but being turned down. The Telegram & Gazette reported that neighbors said the couple often didn’t answer the door when they knocked. One neighbor said she asked them about moving into an assisted living center or getting help from a local senior center, but they weren’t interested.
Alicia Witt said about her parents’ heat not working: “i will never understand how or why they made the choice not to tell me this, not to let me help them with this. my heart is broken.”
After she shared her thoughts on social media, fans surrounded her with love and support. Many shared similar stories of trying to help older parents who refused support.
In response, Witt wrote a long message to her fans on Instagram, expressing her thankfulness for them after they shared encouragement and empathy after her parents’ deaths.
She wrote: “if i could wrap my arms around all of you – i would. thank you to every one of you who has reached out with such love since my last post. your words, your empathy and your kindness have all been deeply felt.”
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