Alicia Witt on Her Parents’ Deaths: ‘I Begged, Cried, Tried to Reason with Them’

Alicia Witt

Getty Alicia Witt in January 2020.

Hallmark star Alicia Witt has spoken publicly for the first time since her parents’ deaths, sharing an intensely personal story about how she tried to help them, but they continually turned her down. Witt’s parents — Robert Witt, 87, and Diane Witt, 75, — were found dead in their home on December 20 after Witt asked a family member to do a welfare check on them. Officials have not shared a cause of death, but Witt wrote in a statement she “had no idea that their heat had gone out.”

Witt Said She Hadn’t Been Allowed in Her Parents’ Home for Decades & They Wouldn’t Consider Moving

In a long post on Facebook and Instagram, Witt shared that she never expected to have to address such a personal matter, but the circumstances around her parents’ deaths had become news in the press. She said she was trying to write about them in a way that honored the privacy they longed for but also addressed all the public questions she was facing.

She wrote: “i’m wanting to honor their privacy, which they held so tightly. there’s an awful irony in the fact that, because of the very lengths they went to in order to protect their privacy in life – that privacy has been stripped away in death.”

She revealed that 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 her parents had plenty of money but were “fiercely stubborn, beautifully original souls.” She said she couldn’t talk them out of the choices they made and could only help “in all the ways they would let me.”

A neighbor who asked not to be named told the Boston Herald that the Witts’ home was in “terrible condition.” The neighbor told the outlet that Diane Witt was “very frail” and Robert Witt had cancer at one point. According to court documents obtained by the Telegram & Gazette, Diane Witt said she had suffered health problems after an ice storm on December 12, 2008, had damaged their home. The Telegram & Gazette reported that the insurance case claimed that $110,000 paid to the Witts was not enough to repair their home. The insurance company’s lawyer, in response, claimed in 2017 that the couple only made rudimentary repairs.

Neighbors also shared a similar story to Alicia Witt’s, speaking of trying to help 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. A neighbor told the Boston Herald that Alicia Witt had bought her parents a station wagon, but it mostly just sat in the driveway.

Witt Said She Still Wonders Whether She Could Have Helped More, but Battling Them ‘Would Have Destroyed Them’

Witt shared that she was still struggling with whether there was any other way she could have helped.

She wrote in her post, “i struggle, as much as i helped, with what else could i have done – short of petitioning the court system for taking control of two otherwise very sharp, very independent, very capable adults. they were a united, intertwined, indivisible force, determined to do things their own way. knowing they had each other – battling them the way i would have had to in order to do this truly felt like it would have destroyed them.”

She said her parents’ heat had stopped 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,” she wrote.

Authorities told Boston 25 News that hypothermia might have been the cause of Witt’s parents’ deaths. One of her parents was wearing a coat inside their home when they were found dead. Police told the Telegram & Gazette that because of problems with a furnace, the couple had been using a space heater. However, Worcester Fire Deputy Chief Adam Roche told the Telegram & Gazette that there were no signs of carbon monoxide in the home. There were no signs of foul play in the home, either, authorities said.

The couple was described by friends and family as being loving and kindhearted.

Neighbors told the Telegram & Gazette that Alicia Witt’s parents were so kindhearted, her dad didn’t even want to remove a family of bunnies from a broken-down car after the animals had moved into it. The neighbor said they were the most “kind and gentle souls I have ever met.”

An obituary published in the Telegram & Gazette on January 20 described a couple that loved animals, food and had once loved walks in the neighborhood before the pandemic.

The obituary concluded: “They were magical, original souls – maddeningly stubborn, astonishingly brilliant, fiercely independent, utterly irreplaceable – and those of us who loved them miss them so dearly.”

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Pamela Heebner
Pamela Heebner
3 months ago

To the 2 people who commented about how they were going to or did do something, I think if we researched it we would find that you were already named legal guardian. The one with cats automatically makes it easy as having 131 cats you know someone is not right. The Witts were totally different in that they were educated, private people who would have presented as mentally competent. If we judged them as mentally unable to take of themselves because of their home, well half of the people in homes that needed painting or other things wrong would be a candidate. You people don’t understand that we cannot even keep a declared insane person in a mental institution. What about the homeless, the vets with PTSD. As a retired nurse married to a lawyer I have seen this and the person is mentally competent. If someone is eccentric that does make them insane.
This is a tragic situation and if you look at what Alicia Witt has done (don’t need words) you would realize her hands were tied. She bought them a car which they let sit in their driveway – bet they really didn’t want her to buy them the car. And she cannot force her way into their home if they say we don’t want anyone in our home.
Alicia, listen to your own heart and look in the mirror. If you honestly know you did all you could have then smile & remember your parents and the good times and forget the people who always say should have, could have, would have.

Pamela Heebner
Pamela Heebner
3 months ago
Reply to  Pamela Heebner

Sentence that says about being eccentric should have stated “if someone is eccentric that does not make them insane”.

Fred Walsh
Fred Walsh
3 months ago

Hearts go out to Alicia and the Witt family for their loss.

To the couple of people criticizing in the comments, and suggesting x or y should have been done:

A. explicitly states she still struggles with the question of what else she could have done. Is there really a need to throw in your own stinging criticism?

Had she gone to the courts for guardianship, one can imagine the enmity that would have been generated in her fiercely independent parents. Who can say how that path would have gone, how long the legalities may have taken, and how the parents may have done in that extremely contentious situation? And surely their having passed after trying to manage in a house without heat was an outcome no one expected. So, your responses could have been more sensitive and mindful of these things.

Michelle Smith
Michelle Smith
3 months ago

Having worked with seniors over the years, this is not an unusual occurrence. You cannot blame family members. Even social workers have their hands tied when it comes to some situations.

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