BENNINGTON — Police have ruled as accidental the death of a woman whose body was found half-submerged in the Roaring Branch a year ago. The Bennington Police Department earlier described the death as “suspicious,” citing trauma on the woman’s head and minor body injuries.
An autopsy revealed that Bridget Osgood, 45, died from a broken neck. But the examination couldn’t determine the circumstances resulting in her death, including whether someone had a hand in it.
BPD Chief Paul Doucette said last October that police were investigating her death as if it were a homicide.
After 12 months with no word on the case, local police responded Tuesday to a Banner inquiry by saying Osgood’s death has been deemed an accident. The news came exactly a year after a man walking his dog found her body in the Roaring Branch off Caroline Drive, on Oct. 13, 2019.
After collecting evidence and conducting interviews, investigators now believe Osgood suffered a broken neck when she fell on the river rocks.
“We speculate that it was probably dark when this took place and lost her footing and struck her head on one of the large boulders in the river bed,” Acting Detective Sgt. Chris Lauzon, the BPD’s lead case investigator, said in an interview. The Vermont State Police’s Major Crime Unit assisted in the investigation.
Osgood’s cellphone was never found, Lauzon said, but a review of her phone records showed it last connected to the network in the early morning of Oct. 8, 2019, five days before her body was found. Police think she could have died anytime during that timeframe.
What Osgood was doing in the river was a question that investigators had from the start. They still don’t have an answer, but know the area was familiar to her.
“There was a spot down there that she and her boyfriend used to frequent in the warmer months, where they would sit by the river,” Lauzon said.
When asked if anyone had been with Osgood on her last trip to the Roaring Branch, the detective said police found no evidence she’d had company.
Osgood’s boyfriend, a Bennington resident who has declined to be named, earlier told the Banner he last saw her on Oct. 7, when they broke up and she moved out of his house.
She reportedly had been absent from work at the Mack Molding plant, located in Arlington, for a number of days but hadn’t been reported missing.
Tony Osgood, her estranged husband who lives in Pownal, had said they’d been separated for five to six months when she died.
The men couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday. Police have said her survivors include two children.
Lauzon said Osgood’s family has been informed that her death was ruled an accident in June.
As of Saturday, her boyfriend told the Banner he hasn’t heard back from police about how their investigation has progressed.
After Osgood’s body was discovered, he said, state police came to his house at least twice to take photos, collect some of Osgood’s belongings and inspect his backyard that led to a portion of the Roaring Branch.
Lauzon acknowledged that police interviewed Osgood’s boyfriend as well as “other persons of interest that were close to her.” But the information police gathered did not lead them to believe these people were involved in her death, he said.
Should new evidence surface that contradicts Osgood’s death being an accident, Lauzon said police would reopen the case.
“We come up with the best conclusion that we have at this point,” he said.