Woman who died at city-run campsite for people experiencing homelessness died of alcohol-related illness, other issues; no foul play suspected

photo by: Kim Callahan/Journal-World

A memorial to Susan Ford is pictured Monday, Dec. 13, 2022, at the city-run campsite for those experiencing homelessness.

A woman who was found dead in November at the city-run campsite for people experiencing homelessness died of a suspected alcohol-related illness and possible drug intoxication and hypothermia, according to a report from the Douglas County coroner.

Susan Ford, 53, was found dead on Nov. 21, 2022, in a tent at the city-run campsite for people experiencing homelessness at 141 Maple St. in North Lawrence. Witnesses at the time told police that no one had heard from her since Nov. 19 and when they checked her tent she was dead, as the Journal-World has reported.

The Douglas County coroner’s office released Ford’s autopsy on Friday with the details of her death, which was ruled an accident. In the report, Dr. Alan Martinez said Ford’s blood test revealed that she had multiple prescription drugs and methamphetamine in her system but there was no sign of alcohol, according to the report. The testing of other bodily fluids showed signs consistent with alcoholic ketoacidosis, a complication of alcohol abuse.

The report said that the autopsy revealed no signs of hypothermia, but that temperatures were 13 degrees on the 19th and 29 degrees on the 20th and that hypothermia could not be ruled out as a cause of death.

Another death — that of 26-year-old Anthony Cipollaro — was reported at an unsanctioned camp less than 100 yards north of the city-run camp on Dec. 30, 2022. Police said at the time that a witness called for help just before noon, and medical professionals pronounced Cipollaro dead at the scene. Police said then that foul play was not suspected in Cipollaro’s death.

photo by: John English/special to the Journal-World

The city-run encampment for people experiencing homeless is pictured Nov. 13, 2022, in North Lawrence. The red circle indicates an unsanctioned campsite where Anthony Cipollaro, 26, was found dead on Dec. 30, 2022.


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