Jacqueline F. Coutinho went missing from her sister’s home in Hinsdale, Massachusetts, in mid-May after saying she was going to look at birds in the backyard.
On July 16 three workers spotted the skeletal remains of a woman in a heavily wooded area in nearby Peru, according to the District Attorney.
The following day, the body was identified as Coutinho.
The family said that medically-speaking the cause of death was exposure, although exactly how she passed is unknown.
“Investigators have not uncovered any indications of foul play in Ms. Coutinho’s disappearance or death, nor do we believe that there is any threat to public safety connected with this sad loss,” Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington said in a press release.
Jacqueline Francis Coutinho (February 12, 1966 – July 16, 2019)It is with the heaviest of hearts that we let you all…
The district attorney offered no information on the cause of death in the press release, published on July 17.
On the Facebook site dedicated to the search for Coutinho, however, the family said the medical examiner believes she passed of exposure—either hypothermia or dehydration.
“To provide some semblance of closure for all of you,” wrote the family in their final post to the page, “Jackie was found peacefully in the woods, lying under a canopy of trees.” Noting that the medical examiner ruled out foul play, they said she “fell asleep and didn’t wake up.”
The grieving family took comfort in the natural surroundings where she was found.
“The area near where she was found was sunny and beautifully green today. Birds were singing. Our dad, Nate Coutinho, placed a collection of wildflowers and a sign he made at the location where Jackie was found.”
“Through all of this, we are so grateful she has been found and we can move through the everyday unknown and begin the grieving process.”
“Please continue to hold us in your hearts and prayers.”
Coutinho had been visiting her sister Angela from mid-April, according to NBC, and went missing on the morning of May 15.
“Angela said Jackie told her she was going to look at birds in the backyard,” her stepdaughter Jessica told Dateline. “Fifteen minutes later, she went to check on her and she was gone.”
“It is unimaginable,” another stepdaughter, Jennifer Lancaster, told Boston News24. “You never think something like this will happen to anyone you know, much less, someone in your family. And it is just an everyday heartache.”
A body found Tuesday in a heavily wooded area of Massachusetts has been identified as Jackie Coutinho, a 53-year-old…
“I don’t think she was suicidal at all,” Lancaster said. “Her granddaughter was her entire world. The earth rotated around that little girl. She was crying the other day that she missed nanny. It’s heartbreaking.”
According to the Berkshire Eagle, Lancaster said Coutinho started “not acting like herself,” around February of this year, and declined the family’s suggestion to seek professional help.
She had gone up to stay with her sister to “clear her head,” Angela Stetson told the Eagle.
After she disappeared, her family later found handwritten cards in her room, apparently for occasions stretching far into the future, including a birthday in May, a Father’s Day for Nate, and other occasions.
“It sounds like she knew she was not going to be here next year,” Lancaster told the Eagle. “We were hoping that wasn’t going to be the case.”
“So many what-ifs are going through our brains right now.”