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Bear had been in Sierra Nevada home where woman was found dead

Sequence of events still unclear in Downieville incident


A bear had been in a home in the Sierra Nevada where a woman was found dead, and investigators are trying to determine the timeline of events.

The discovery was made Nov. 8 by Sierra County sheriff’s deputies who were conducting a welfare check at the request of a person who hadn’t seen Patrice Miller in several days.

The deputies ended up forcing entry into Miller’s Downieville home. There they found the 71-year-old woman dead, as well as evidence of bear activity.

“Preliminary investigation indicates that she passed away prior to the bear’s involvement,” said a report this week from the sheriff’s office. Miller’s cause of death remained undetermined, and deputies and Fish and Wildlife agents are attempting to “piece together the sequence of events,” the office said.

Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office is reminding Downieville residents to close ground-floor doors and windows at night, lock their vehicles, and secure food and garbage out of the reach of animals.