Family reflects on doctor who died in chimney

Family reflects on doctor who died in chimney »Play Video
Marcia Carrillo speaks to Eyewitness News on Wednesday in Chino Hills about the loss of her sister, Dr. Jacquelyn Kotarac. The doctor died late last week after apparently climbing into a Bakersfield chimney.

CHINO HILLS, Calif. -- The family of the doctor who died in the chimney of a Bakersfield home is speaking about their loss.

The sisters of Dr. Jacquelyn Kotarac say they don't understand what led her to climb into the chimney of her boyfriend's house. They think something pushed her buttons.

"My sister was passionate, and I think she would have been provoked into something almost like a passionate frenzy," Marcia Carrillo told Eyewitness News Wednesday. Carrillo lives in Chino Hills and is serving as the family spokesperson.

Carrillo says the family is distressed by the gossip and speculation over her sister's death. Kotarac's body was found in the chimney of the home in the 4300 block of La Mirada Drive on Saturday. She had been reported missing Thursday. Kotarac was last seen Wednesday night when she went to the home, trying to contact her boyfriend.


 Dr. Jacquelyn Kotarac is seen in a family photo.

But the doctor's boyfriend, Bill Moodie, slipped out and spent the night someplace else. The sister said she doesn't know much about the relationship between Moodie and Kotarac and doesn't know what happened that night.

"We're only looking at a very small snapshot of what happened," Carrillo said. "I know they had a turbulent relationship, that things were a little rocky, and she was turning 50 on Sunday."

Police believe Kotarac climbed on the roof of the home, removed the top of the chimney and slipped down it feet first.

"We all have our limits," Carrillo said. "And Jackie's limits, when that had been reached, she was just determined to get into this guy's house. I think maybe jealousy. I mean, what does love invoke in us?"

Kotarac had been planning to go to Europe with her boyfriend on Friday. When she didn't arrive at work on Thursday, Moodie and her staff checked his house and found her purse and cell phone in the back yard. They reported her missing.

Carrillo said she was frantic over her sister's disappearance and came to Bakersfield to search around the doctor's house. They didn't find any sign of her. The sister finds it chilling that the boyfriend then spent Thursday night in his home, when Kotarac was apparently already dead in the chimney.

Police believe Kotarac used a permanent ladder to climb on the roof, and get into the chimney. Investigators also say she had been drinking earlier in the evening at a Bakersfield restaurant. The sister doesn't think alcohol played a role in what happened.

"I don't think a drunk person could have gotten on a roof and torn off a chimney," Carrillo said.

The sister said the family is hurt by the gossip, speculation and blogs. They've seen headlines on Internet stories.

"They're saying 'stalker doctor.' That's a catchy headline, stalker doctor dies in boyfriend's chimney," Carrillo said, shaking her head. "It's just not true, and it has to come out, we have to speak for her."

Eyewitness News talked to Bill Moodie on Tuesday. "She was wonderful and warm," the boyfriend said in a phone call. "She was intelligent, attractive, a good person people."

Moodie said Kotarac's death hit him hard, and called this a loss for the community.

"This is a tragedy that didn't need to happen," Moodie added.

Carrillo said the family hadn't noticed any change in Kotarac's behavior recently. The sister said as a doctor, Kotarac always dealt with a lot of stress.

But, the family doesn't understand why Kotarac tried to get into Moodie's house through the chimney. And Carrillo wishes there had been a different response when her sister showed up at her boyfriend's house trying to get in.

"Don't just take off, call the police," the sister said. "Call the mental health people. Just don't let people do these types of things."

The Kern County Coroner has ruled Kotarac's death was an accident, caused by asphyxia. She couldn't breath in the small space of the chimney.

The family says Kotarac made a bad decision, which they can't understand.

"All the things that made her a doctor, that made her who she was, that night came together to give her this idea that she could go down the chimney." Carrillo said. "She probably analyzed it, thought 'I can make it.' And she damn well almost did. She just made a bad judgment call that night."