Death of Medford Mom Ruled Accidental, But Family Says ‘Unanswered Questions Remain'

Her death was considered suspicious, but there were no obvious signs of trauma, officials said around the time of her death

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The 2022 death of a mother from Medford, Massachusetts, has been ruled accidental by the medical examiner, but the woman's family said they are unable to accept that determination.

The body of Barbara Hovey Novaes, 61, was found by a police officer inside a recycling container under the porch in the backyard of the home she shared with her son, authorities said last May. Her son had reported her missing early one morning, after saying he hadn't seen her since she was supposedly heading to a nail appointment the previous day.

Police are investigating after the death of Barbara Novaes, who was initially reported missing.

Her death was considered suspicious, but there were no obvious signs of trauma, officials said at the time.

The medical examiner's office has now ruled her death as an accident, saying her cause of death was positional asphyxia.

Her family has thanked Massachusetts State Police and the Medford Police Department for their "diligence displayed during their investigation," but the family said in a statement they are "unable to accept the determination it was accidental."

"Too many suspicious circumstances, coincidences, and unanswered questions remain," the statement said. "Despite the tireless investigation, those who knew and loved Barb, can not accept her death as an accident.

The body of Barbara Hovey Novaes, 61, of Medford, was found Monday morning behind her Emery Street home.

Barb was a community advocate, a joyful neighbor, a professional co-worker, and a tender, loving daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and mother. Unfortunately, the time, place, and circumstances surrounding our Barbara’s death leave us with no closure. We are grateful that the police agencies have agreed to reopen Barb’s case should new evidence come to light.

In Barbara’s honor, please conduct an act of kindness, and remember to always tell those you love just how you feel."

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