Hypothermia and acute alcohol intoxication are the causes of death of a CSU instructor whose body was found in a snow bank outside a Fort Collins church last week, according to the Larimer County Coroner.
“It is a very tragic case of an individual who left on her own,” said Rita Davis, spokeswoman for Fort Collins Police Services.
Patricia Wilkins-Wells, 59, taught sociology at the University of Northern Colorado and was an online professor at CSU.
A missing person report was filed on Jan. 2 and Wilkins-Wells’ body was found on Jan. 28 buried in a snow bank next to Foothills Unitarian Church. The body appeared to have been at the location for a while.
Four children discovered the body that morning before church services, according to a FCPS statement.
“We got a lot of e-mails from students and faculty wanting to say something,” said Karen Jennison, a sociology professor at UNC.
Jennison said Wilkins-Wells was well liked and reliable.
“Students liked her,” said David Caldwell, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at UNC. “It is a difficult time but I think students and faculty are handling it well.”
A UNC memorial has been created on Wilkins-Wells’ door with photos and a large card that students and faculty are invited to sign.
“Everyone was very surprised about it,” Jennison said. “It was just kind of an unexpected thing.”
Davis said there is no indication of foul play.
Staff writer Emily Polak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.