Actress Alicia Witt is still emotional about her parents’ unexpected deaths on Dec. 20. She took to Facebook this week to express her pain.
Obviously still grieving, she posted a photo of herself as a very young girl with her parents. The accompanying text said the “circumstances around my parents’ sudden passing” have led to misconceptions. What is worse, there is the “awful irony [that] the very lengths they went to in order to protect their privacy in life — that privacy has been stripped away in death.”
On her Facebook page she wrote: “[I]t’s been a month since I got scared, not having heard back from them, and called to have them checked on, waiting, phone in hand, praying fervently that the next call would be from them … knowing as soon as I heard the detective’s voice on the other line that they were gone.”
Witt, who became a child star at eight years with her appearance in the 1984 movie Dune, has done a lot of television work as an adult: she was Gersten Hayward in Twin Peaks (2017), Paula in two episodes of The Walking Dead (2016) and Zelda, a recurring role in the seventh season of Orange is the New Black (2019).
She has also continued to appear in movies including Urban Legend (1998), Vanilla Sky (2001) and Two Weeks Notice (2002).
Her parents were Robert and Diane Witt. After early reports of their deaths there was some confusion as to what happened to them. They died together in their home in Worcester, Massachusetts, of a failed furnace and a cold snap. The temperature in Worcester, about 50 miles west of Boston, dropped to as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit the night before their bodies were discovered.
Though the facts are consistent with hypothermia, no autopsy report has yet been made public. Robert Witt, 87, had cancer and Diane Witt, 75, had Parkinson’s disease.
The Witts’ neighbors in Worcester had noticed for years that the home was in disrepair, and they had offered to help pitch in and make repairs. The offer was refused.
In her Facebook post, Alicia Witt said that they had not allowed her into their home for more than a decade. She had offered to have repairs made, and they had refused to allow the workers inside their house. She is especially unhappy about the notion that her parents were “penniless” and were unable to afford a repaired furnace that might have kept them alive.
“i begged, cried, tried to reason with them, tried to convince them to let me help them move – but every time, they became furious with me, telling me i had no right to tell them how to live their lives and that they had it all under control. it was not for a lack of trying on my part, or the part of other people who loved them,” the post says.
The actress said that she does not know what else she could have been done “short of petitioning the court system for taking control of two otherwise very sharp, very independent, very capable adults. They were a united, intertwined, indivisible force, determined to do things their own way.”
She thanked Mercadente Funeral Home for “going to great lengths” to make it possible for her to “quietly travel to Worcester for a beautiful service and burial, to mourn and to celebrate them in total privacy.”
Robert and Diane (nee Pietro) Witt were married for more than half a century. They were wed in July 1969, on the day of Neil Armstrong’s famous “one small step” onto the surface of the moon.