LINCOLN, NEB. The family of a woman who died of exposure outside her assisted-living complex say she was trapped in a stairwell by drifts of unshoveled snow.
Barbara Rhodes, 69, was found dead Feb. 5 near the southwest corner of Brentwood Estates, the retirement home where she lived.
"She was trapped in a winter wall of snow," said John Keifer, Rhodes' son-in-law.
Rhodes' said the woman went outside the home to walk her dog and was unable to get back inside. They say she was trapped by two retaining walls on either side of a stairwell and a mound of unshoveled snow blocking the stairs that would have been impossible for the 5-foot-5 woman to scale.
Police, who are investigating the death, confirmed that Rhodes apparently took her dog outside, and the door locked behind her.
"Once that door shut, she was trapped," Keifer said.
Brentwood officials said the walkway and stairwell had been cleared before Feb. 5 -- a day when 7 inches of snow fell in the area.
Rhodes' children found her body Feb. 5, about two hours after the managers of the complex called to say they couldn't find her, said Theresa Scherer, Rhodes' daughter.