Elderly NY man found dead in car in Grafton field

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GRAFTON — An elderly New York man was found dead in his vehicle Monday in a field off Middletown Road.

Vermont State Police said the death of Anthony Spinelli, 83, of Salem, N.Y., was not suspicious.

An autopsy was ordered to determine the cause of death, a press release from the state police said.

Spinelli's vehicle had apparently traveled off the driveway at 1648 Middletown Road, went down a small embankment, went through a field and came to rest against a small stonewall, according to Vermont State Police Detective. Sgt. Thomas McCoy.

He said police estimated Spinelli had been there, undiscovered, for three or four days, based on the amount of snow on his black, 2002 Honda Accord. The vehicle was registered to Spinelli.

He said Spinelli, who had never married and didn't have children, did have friends in the Manchester area and there were receipts in his car indicating he had visited the Manchester area recently.

His closest surviving relative, McCoy said, is his 87-year-old sister who lives in New York City. He said that Spinelli did not suffer from dementia, but had apparently become disoriented driving down the private driveway.

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McCoy said Spinelli's vehicle was discovered Monday afternoon by a man who was pruning apple trees at the Middletown Road property, which is about a mile north of the village of Grafton, on the way to Houghtonville, a hamlet in the town of Grafton.

Police said it was not clear if Spinelli's death was due to hypothermia or natural causes.

Until Saturday afternoon, there was very little snow cover in the area, but a snowstorm which started Saturday afternoon deposited about half a foot of snow on the region, and temperatures dipped into the single digits overnight. McCoy said that it had also snowed on Wednesday and Thursday.

He said that Spinelli did not have injuries due to his car going off the road.

Police said an assistant Vermont medical examiner, along with Grafton Fire and Rescue responded to the scene.

The autopsy was slated for Tuesday in Burlington at the Chief Medical Examiner's office.

McCoy said police would be issuing an updated press release once the cause of Spinelli's death was determined.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com or at 802 254-2311, ext. 154.


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