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‘Dune’ Actress Explains Parents’ Shock Deaths: ‘I Had No Idea Their Heat Had Gone’

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A month after her parents’ shock deaths from hypothermia, actor Alicia Witt took to Facebook Tuesday to detail how the preventable tragedy has left her reeling and struggling with what she could have done to save them.

In a raw statement released Tuesday, the 1984 Dune actor and Orange Is the New Black star wrote that “i had no idea that their heat had gone out. i will never understand how or why they made the choice not to tell me this, not to let me help them with this. my heart is broken.”

Robert and Diane Witt, aged 87 and 75, were found dead in their Worcester, Massachusetts home on Dec. 20. Witt had called to ask a cousin to perform a welfare check after not being able to reach them. She said that when she heard a detective on the line instead of her parents, she knew they were dead. Officers at the house found no apparent cause of death, with one lieutenant stating at the time, “There was no trauma.”

The sudden and mysterious nature of the deaths thrust Witt’s previously private parents into the spotlight and the actor herself into a painful type of notoriety. She wrote, “I never imagined i would have to talk about this publicly—much less, amidst overwhelming floods of grief.”

She said her parents were fiercely private people, to the point that she hadn’t been allowed inside their home for more than a decade.

“[E]very time i offered to have something repaired for them, they refused to allow workers into their house. i begged, cried, tried to reason with them,” she wrote. “[B]ut every time, they became furious with me, telling me i had no right to tell them how to live their lives and that they had it all under control.”

She said she had spent the past month imagining ways she could have convinced them, short of getting a court mandate, to allow her to look after their home and finances.

“[B]attling them the way i would have had to in order to do this truly felt like it would have destroyed them,” she said, as she described her parents as “fiercely stubborn,” “very independent,” and “very capable” people who “were not penniless.”

Their deaths, so obviously preventable, have broken Witt’s heart and left her wondering why they hid the fact their heating had gone out, she wrote.

“It still doesn’t feel real,” she said. She wrote mournfully of spending “the rest of my life of finding them on the breeze, in a song, in a dream.” She said she will never find “enough adjectives to describe them.”

“They were brilliant educators, deeply kind, curious, intuitive, wise, young at heart, funny,” she wrote. And their last words to each other were, “i love you.”

“[T]hat part was simple; never in doubt. they loved me so. i loved them so.”

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