Woman found dead in freezing temperatures outside Suwannee County Courthouse

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By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 19, 2018

LIVE OAK, Fla. (WCTV) -- A Live Oak woman was found dead in freezing cold temperatures.

The woman has been identified as 61-year-old Pamela Smith.

The police report says the temperature was in the low 20s when Smith died. The report says she was found slouched over in a sitting position against the front courthouse doors.

Authorities say during their security check rounds, a Suwannee County deputy spotted Smith on the front steps of the courthouse late Wednesday night around 11:50 p.m.

The police report says she was moving and talking.

A couple of hours later, around 2 a.m., she was sitting up against the front doors. The deputy reported she was still moving and mumbling to herself.

By around 5 a.m., she was dead when the deputy saw her.

Her friend, Anthony Ansley, said, "She always liked to walk anytime in the morning. We didn't know where she was. When we found out, it was real sad. She liked to go. She didn't like to be cooped up in the house. So, it was her, it was her decision to go outside."

The police report says Smith was wearing a knitted hat, a thin black coat, two thin sleeveless shirts underneath the coat, blue jeans, socks, and slippers.

Live Oak Police Chief Buddy Williams said, "We can't make you seek shelter. We can't make you put a jacket on when it's cold. All we can do is offer you some assistance and see if there's anything we can do to make your life better and improve your quality of life."

Chief Williams says Smith was known to frequently sleep outside.

"I hate that we had to lose someone. But, I feel like she was offered the assistance. She was checked on, had the ability to receive some help; and just refused our help," Williams explained.

Smith had somewhere to live. It's a mobile home on West Avenue.

Ansley says his cousin took Smith in years ago and provided her shelter, clothes, and food.

"She had her own room and everything." He said.

Ansley says Smith did have mental health issues.

No cuts or wounds were found on Smith's body. Chief Williams says no foul play is suspected.

Police say the cold most likely was a factor in Smith's death, but they won't know the official cause of death until after the autopsy is complete.

"I'm hurting now over her." Said one of her friends.

"She was a good woman. She always liked to walk, have fun, talk to everybody. She was a good person. My cousin took care of her real good. We're just sorry for her loss," Ansley said.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
January 19, 2018

LIVE OAK, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Live Oak Police Department is investigating after a woman was found dead outside of the Suwannee County Courthouse on Thursday morning.

Live Oak Police Chief Buddy Williams says the woman has been identified as 61-year-old Pamela Smith.

Williams says Smith was found on the porch area of the courthouse building around 5:08 a.m. Thursday.

We've learned that a deputy was conducting perimeter checks at the courthouse just hours before Smith's death.

A police report states that the deputy noticed a woman on the courthouse steps around 11:50 p.m. who was talking and moving around at the time. The deputy saw her again around 2 a.m., sitting up against the courthouse doors, moving and mumbling to herself.

Hours later, Smith was found dead, slouched against the entrance doors.

Officials have not yet determined Smith's cause of death but say foul play is not suspected.

Chief Williams added that the cold weather may have been a contributing factor, with the temperature dipping into the 20s overnight.

Smith has a local home address but police say it was not uncommon to see her sleeping at the courthouse building and other areas around town.

Preliminary autopsy results are pending.

This is a developing story. We will bring you more information as it becomes available.

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