Local News

Wednesday, Sep 01 2010 09:49 PM

Estranged boyfriend of doctor found in chimney speaks of 'incredible sense of loss'

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    Dr. Jacquelyn Kotarac, photographed in 2007.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI, Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

Dr. Jacquelyn Kotarac was a very intelligent, attractive woman and a gifted doctor, estranged boyfriend William Moodie said.

In fact, her attention to detail and connections within the medical community resulted in Moodie getting a new heart valve, Moodie said Wednesday evening. She listened to his chest, noticed something was wrong, and drove him to UCLA Medical Center to meet with the chief of cardiothoracic surgery.

That doctor agreed with Kotarac and the heart valve was replaced, Moodie said.

"She was absolutely brilliant as a doctor," he said.

Kotarac's badly decomposed body was found Saturday wedged in the chimney of Moodie's house. Bakersfield police believe she had been there about three days, since trying to force her way into the house on the evening of Aug. 25.

Kotarac, 49, showed up at the house that night and Moodie, not wanting a confrontation, slipped out the back door when she arrived, police said. She apparently used a shovel to try to force open the back door of the home in the 4300 block of La Mirada Drive, police said.

Moodie, 58, spent the night someplace else, according to police.

At some point, Kotarac used a ladder to get to the roof, removed the chimney cap and slid down the flue feet first, police said. Her body was found stuck near the bottom of the flue. The coroner's office reported she died from being unable to breathe and her death was an accident. Police said Moodie was never a suspect.

Moodie declined to talk about his relationship with Kotarac or what their status was as a couple when she showed up that night.

But he's tired of people saying negative things about her and said it's time to leave her alone.

"She made a horrendously bad decision and paid for it with her life," Moodie said.

He remembers Kotarac, whom he knew for three to three and a half years, as a tremendously giving person who even provided free medical service to some people. Kotarac, a 1991 graduate of UCLA Medical School, was an internal medicine doctor who worked out of an office on San Dimas Street.

As far as hobbies, she was a lifelong fan of equestrian events and owned horses when she was younger. Moodie said he and Kotarac attended a horse jumping competition in Las Vegas, and she often went to see horses race.

Although her busy schedule often didn't allow it, Kotarac also loved to travel, Moodie said.

Police said Kotarac had an airplane ticket to go to Amsterdam with Moodie the Friday after she went missing. Moodie and an office assistant of Kotarac's searched his house Thursday and reported her missing to police because her car and purse were there.

Moodie spent the night at his home Thursday and then went on the trip. Police searched the home Friday evening, but found nothing.

It wasn't until a woman checking on Moodie's fish tank noticed a foul odor Saturday and inspected the chimney flue that Kotarac's body was discovered.

Moodie said he's been staying in hotels since returning to Bakersfield and he won't live in the house. He said he'll have it repaired -- the chimney had to be dismantled to remove the body -- but he imagines there will be some issues selling the home with the notoriety it now has.

Moodie said it's been a difficult time, and Kotarac's death has had an enormous impact on him.

"I feel this incredible sense of loss," he said. "It's very hard to accept the fact that she's gone."

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