Coroner: Woman found in Rock River died of ‘homicidal violence’

The elderly Janesville woman whose body was found in the Rock River earlier this year died due to “homicidal violence,” an official said Tuesday.

Acting Rock County Coroner Lou Smit told News 8’s sister station, WISC 3 that 75-year-old Mary Coulthard died from an anoxic brain injury due to drowning. Smit said the manner of death was homicide.

Coulthard had not been heard from for a week before her body was found in the river on May 9, Janesville police said. A teen who was fishing on the bank found the body.

Three days before Coulthard’s body was found, police recovered the body of 21-year-old Britney Cross, of Edgerton, behind a business at 533 N. Main St. in Janesville, which is near the Rock River. Cross’ death was ruled a homicide; she died of a blunt impact head injury, police said.

Coulthard’s family said Tuesday’s news confirms what they have suspected for the past seven months.

“We knew that she did not jump off that bridge by herself, we knew that down in our hearts,” said Nancy Qincy, Coulthard’s sister-in-law. “She’s not that type of person. Something happened on that bridge, and hopefully detectives can determine what happened.”

Both Qincy and Coulthard’s brother, Bobby, said she was very religious and often would walk down by the river to preach to people there. Both questioned whether that late-night habit might have had something to do with her death.

“If Mary walked up to them and started preaching to them, you don’t know how they would take somebody like that,” Qincy said.

Janesville police were also aware of Coulthard’s walks by the river.

“Whether that contact led to have anything to do with her death, we’re not certain, but we do want to encourage anyone that has any information to contact us,” Lt. Keith Lawver, with the Janesville Police Department, said.

Clayton J. Courtney, 28, of Janesville, was charged with first-degree intentional homicide in June in connection with Cross’ death.

Due to when and where Coulthard’s body was found, and based on statements Courtney made, police were investigating if there were any connections between Courtney and Coulthard. However, police said on May 12 that there was no evidence that the two crossed paths, and Courtney has not been charged with a crime related to Coulthard’s death.

Lawver said Tuesday that while Courtney has denied any involvement in the case and police haven’t been able to link him to Coulthard’s death, he remains a possible suspect.

Janesville police said they have not had any new tips for months, so they ask the public to call 608-757-2244 if they have any information regarding Coulthard’s death.

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