RACHAEL RAY is caught up in a bitter family feud over the horrifying death of her Aunt Geraldine.

In a heartbreaking tragedy, the Food Network star’s 77-year-old aunt died of exposure outside the house of Rachael’s mom in upstate New York – because no one had left her a key to get back inside.

The elderly woman had been house-sitting on Nov. 29 when she accidentally locked herself out. Ailing from a respiratory disease, she collapsed before she could get help.

 Rachael missed her Aunt Geraldine’s Dec. 5 funeral because of her work schedule, her rep said, which added to the family stress. 

“Mom was paid $300 to house-sit for her sister five days a week – but was never given a key,” Ra­chael’s cousin Gina Mesnick told The ENQUIRER in a block­buster exclusive interview. “Instead, for some inexplicable reason, a key was given only to someone else who watched the place the other two days. When that person’s shift was over, they would let my mom in to begin hers.

“At around 4 p.m. on Nov. 29, Mom – who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – went out to feed the birds. Then, when she went to go back in, she must have realized that the door had locked behind her.

“There’s security camera footage that shows my poor mom trying desperately to break a window with a rock to get back in as well as to gain access through the garage door by way of a keypad that had been previously disconnected without her knowledge.

“At some point in the evening I suspect that, because of her con­dition, she had trouble breathing and collapsed in the driveway and basically died there.

“Her body wasn’t found until the following morning.”

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