Woman, 96, wanders from home in cold, found dead on elementary school playground

A 96-year-old woman who wandered away from her home in the middle of the night in just her robe and bath robe was found frozen to death on an elementary school playground just one block away.

Police in Roseville say the elderly woman was found dead early Tuesday morning at Dort Elementary School in just her nightgown, robe, and slippers in temperatures that were hovering around zero. 

According to Roseville Police Chief James Berlin, the woman had just recently been diagnosed with early on-set dementia and lived alone at a home on Curtis Street.

"Unfortunately she only made it about a block before she was overcome by the extreme cold and passed away," Berlin said. "We believe she became confused sometime in the night and for whatever reason walked out of the house and was ill-prepared for the extreme cold."

Around 7:30 Tuesday morning, staff at Dort Elementary discovered the woman's frozen body lying in the school's playground. Police said school surveillance video shows the woman walking outside around 4 a.m.

"At that age, I feel that somebody should've been paying somewhat of attention to her," neighbor David Sparks said.

Roseville police say the woman's family is of course devastated and apparently had been planning a more permanent living situation. However, police say that, up until this point, the 96-year-old woman had maintained a rather independent life.

"She made cookies for the neighbors, very friendly, very outgoing, just a phenomenal person, especially for someone of that age," Berlin said.

The same day this woman was found, Roseville police got another call regarding a 95-year-old woman. That family asked for a welfare check because she wasn't answering her phone. 

"She was suffering from hypothermia insider her own home. Thankfully we got to her in time and she's been hospitalized," Berlin said.

Roseville police and neighbors are shaken and reminding everyone to check on their neighbors during this extended cold stretch.

"Check on your neighbors, check on your love ones, make sure everything is functioning properly and they're taken care of," Berlin said.