Authorities suspect Brown County teen died of hypothermia

A body was found during the search for the missing 17-year-old after her car went off the road
A body was found during a search near the missing teen's car, which went off an unplowed road
Published: Jan. 29, 2023 at 10:37 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 31, 2023 at 9:47 PM CST
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BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Brown County Sheriff’s Office believes it’s found a missing Wrightstown teenager. A frozen body was found in the elements. Authorities are waiting for autopsy results to confirm it’s Daniela Itzel Velazquez.

They’re calling her death “a tragic accident.”

The mother of the 17-year-old reported her missing at 2:41 Sunday afternoon. Just 10 minutes earlier, a Wisconsin State trooper found her vehicle in a ditch on Blake Road, south of Highway 96. Shoes and Velazquez’s phone were found outside the car, and the keys and a wallet were found inside.

The road had not been plowed and it appeared the car had drifted a few feet off the roadway, Capt. David Poteat said. Footprints were erased by blowing snow.

Investigators used drones, ATVs, snowmobiles and police K9s to scour more than 37 acres. Monday, a police K9 found a piece of clothing east of the car, and the search focused on that area before the body was found on Tuesday. It was about a quarter-mile from the car.

Authorities believe at this time, pending an autopsy, that she died of hypothermia. The body was found with the arms clutched to the chest, as a person would do to keep warm.

“She was, she was definitely not dressed for the weather, and being outside in conditions much like they are today for any extended period of time is going to result in fatality in a short period of time,” Poteat said.

Poteat could only theorize that she left her shoes because they were full of snow after trying to get the car back on the road, and removed clothing as hypothermia set in, a condition known as paradoxical undressing.

“It’s hard to know what her thought process was,” Poteat said.

They don’t believe foul play was involved in the death.

Poteat also said deputies didn’t find any indication of a passenger in the car.

Velazquez was last seen at 10:30 Saturday night, and the last contact anyone is known to have had with her was a phone call to a friend in Florida at 11:23 p.m. Investigators believe her car went off Blake Road sometime between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday.

The sheriff’s office is looking for anyone who has security cameras or doorbell cameras in that area or information that might help piece together the girl’s plans that night. If you have information, contact the Brown County Sheriff’s Office at 920-391-7450.

Poteat said Velazquez was from Wisconsin but more recently lived in Florida and returned to the area last month.

“At this time, our sincere sympathy goes out to the family, Daniela’s friends,” Poteat said. “It’s a hard time for them, and they do ask privacy during this time.”