Detectives had investigated the death as a possible homicide.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Delgreta R. Wilkerson's death last year has been ruled from natural causes, Trumbull County's forensic pathologist says.
Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk said Thursday that Wilkerson died of a stroke. He called it a "delayed death" and said she had a history of high blood pressure.
The death had been investigated as a possible homicide.
Dr. Germaniuk said he had to work backward to track down all her health problems.
The 48-year-old Victor Avenue woman died at Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital in late December 2004. The location made the death the jurisdiction of the Trumbull County coroner's office.
The ambulance crew that took Wilkerson to St. Elizabeth Health Center on Dec. 7, 2004, from the East Side told police that she had bruising behind both ears and her blood pressure was rising, indicating a possible serious head injury. Germaniuk said the bleeding came from a fall caused by the stroke, not by an assault as detectives suspected.
Wilkerson's ex-boyfriend told police that he heard a loud knocking on his door at 5:30 a.m. Dec. 7 and, when he looked out his upstairs bedroom window, saw Wilkerson lying face up on the grass by the door. The ex-boyfriend said Wilkerson had dried blood on her face and in her ears and blood or possibly urine between her legs.
He said he carried her inside and removed her clothing, throwing a bloody T-shirt in the trash and washing her pants so she'd have something to wear.
Not getting better
The ex-boyfriend told police that Wilkerson, whom he placed in bed, didn't want to go to the hospital but when she didn't appear to be getting any better, he called an ambulance. The call was made as a rape report.
A crime lab officer later collected the woman's bloody T-shirt from the trash.
At the hospital, police were told that Wilkerson was totally unresponsive and was being prepared for surgery for an aneurysm. She was later transferred to Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital.