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Missing Middlebury Teen Died of Hypothermia


Published July 31, 2023 at 7:35 p.m.

Rebecca-Lynn Ball - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Rebecca-Lynn Ball
This story was updated on August 1, 2023.

Rebecca-Lynn Ball, a 17-year-old from Middlebury who was missing for six days before she was found dead in the woods on April 4, succumbed to hypothermia, according to her death certificate.

"Exposure to cold environment” was listed as a contributing factor on the certificate, which the state Department of Health released on Monday. The manner of death was listed as "accident."

Ball, who had autism, was last seen alive around 4 p.m. on March 29 near the southern end of Wright Park. She'd abruptly left a therapy appointment without her cellphone or coat.

According to the Weather Channel, temperatures ranged from 20 to 56 degrees Fahrenheit between March 29, the day Ball went missing, and April 4, the day her body was found. It rained or snowed on several of those days.
A community vigil for Rebecca-Lynn Ball on April 2 - ALISON NOVAK
  • Alison Novak
  • A community vigil for Rebecca-Lynn Ball on April 2
On the Sunday after Ball's disappearance, community members held a vigil for the missing teen at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, where Ball was a parishioner. Hundreds of volunteers formed search parties to look for the teen as a supplement to the police response.
Ultimately, a canine search team found Ball’s body in a wooded area in Weybridge, on the west side of Otter Creek and north of Beldens Falls, not far from where she had last been seen six days before.

Reverend Paul Olsson of St. Stephen's described Ball, a Middlebury Union High School senior, as a lover of books and peppermint tea. She also participated in her school’s yearbook club and helped to groom local trails, according to her obituary.

"Rebecca had a unique way of wiggling her way into all our hearts," the obituary said. "She will be sorely missed by the many people she touched in her short lifetime."

Money raised from a GoFundMe page created after Ball’s death was used to pay for her funeral and headstone and to establish a scholarship fund in her name. According to the page, a Middlebury student received a $1,000 scholarship in Ball's memory in June.

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