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Woman found frozen to death near home tried to call for help

NIAGARA FALLS – Police could hear the shivering in her voice as Octavia Wilson called on the phone for help just steps away from her home on Saturday night.

“You could actually hear her shivering. It was awful,” said Niagara Falls Police Chief of Detectives Capt. William Thomson.

What made the recorded call police listened to on Wednesday even more painful to hear was the fact that Wilson died alone in the cold over the weekend.

The body of Wilson, who apparently had been outside in subzero temperatures since Saturday, was discovered Tuesday night by family members, city police said Wednesday.

Police said there were no signs of obvious trauma.

Wilson, 47, of 2487 Niagara Ave., was first reported missing by family on Monday, after she hadn’t been seen or heard from since Saturday.

According to police, she had been on a date with a boyfriend and may have been drinking. She was dropped off, but for some reason never made it into her house. Family members found her frozen body, covered with snow, in a yard next door.

Thomson said an autopsy cannot be conducted immediately but foul play is not suspected.

“You can’t say for sure, since she was so frozen,” Thomson said. “There was no blood or signs of obvious trauma.”

Thomson said Wilson was able to make the one phone call, about an hour after she was dropped off, to another boyfriend – not the one she had been with Saturday night.

Thomson said the call is hard to listen to.

“It’s very sad. You can’t understand what she’s trying to say and it sounds like she is shivering,” Thomson said. “It was awful.”

The boyfriend who had received the call rushed to the scene Tuesday night, but Thomson said about 20 members of the family, who were on the scene, turned on him, calling him a murderer.

He said they hit him over the head, beat him up and then chased him to his mother’s house on Ontario Avenue. The family members also reportedly tried to break into the mother’s house, breaking a window in a storm door.

Thomson said the boyfriend, who has filed charges, was bleeding from the head and had swelling around both eyes.

“They thought this was murder, even though we don’t see any evidence of murder,” Thomson said of what prompted the reported assault.

Police Superintendent E. Bryan DalPorto was unable to comment directly on the investigation, but said a full investigation is underway.

“It’s just too early to tell. Certainly the exposure plays a factor in this, if not the main factor,” he said.

He called Wilson’s death very sad and preventable.

“I want to caution people to take measures to protect themselves in this extreme weather,” he said. “You need to take extreme caution when extreme weather hits.”

email: nfischer@buffnews.com