Friends mourn Hamilton woman who died of apparent hypothermia


HAMILTON, Mont. - The woman who died last week in a brush-covered field behind a Hamilton grocery store is remembered as a good friend and hard worker, who had fallen on hard times.

Linda Shelley died of apparent hypothermia behind Super 1 Foods off Highway 93, on Hamilton's north side.

Her body was found Sunday after she had been reported missing several days before that.

Chaplain Mark Hawes, of Heart Ministries,  said her friends are "broken hearted at her death."

Hawes said it appears Shelley had set up a small campsite in the bushes behind the grocery store. He said she had layered clothing, a blanket, food and water.

The 61-year-old, who originally came from Sidney, Montana, was not evicted from her apartment, said Hawes. He said she walked away from the place she was staying.

She was a nice, pleasant lady, said the chaplain, who suffered bouts of depression.

He said she had come in contact with a number of community leaders and churches in Ravalli County.

The pastor of the Church of God in Hamilton said he first met Shelley when she came to his church asking for help in August.

Pastor Patrick Brower and his wife set up a small apartment for her on church grounds. She lived there off and on for about two-and-a-half months, said the pastor. He said in that time Shelley helped out any way she could. He remembers her as a great cook.

She valued her alone time, he said. He remembers her as loving the outdoors.

"We came to love her," said Brower. She had a good sense of humor. She was a hard worker," he said. "She didn't really ask for anything other than a place to stay. We helped her as much as we could. We're  a small congregation. We cared for her."

"She was appreciative," said Brower, "and we miss her."

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