Woman found dead inside department store after four days

COLUMBIA, S.C. — An employee at a South Carolina department store died inside of a bathroom at the store, but was not found for several days.

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Investigators said that Bessie Durham, 63, was a janitor at the Belk department store at Columbiana Centre, The Associated Press reported. Durham was found Monday inside a bathroom stall. Her cleaning cart was outside the restroom, the AP reported.

Durham’s family had not talked to her since Thursday, prompting them to file a missing person’s report with the Columbia Police Department, Deputy Chief Melron Kelly told WIS.

“We were there with the family taking a missing person’s report, and once we were on scene and did a little investigating, we did discover the person deceased at the Belk,” Kelly told WIS.

While Kelly said there was no indication of foul play, police are investigating what happened.

“We’re still working with the mall to find out what their processes are for closing down the store, inspecting the store, and things of that nature, because we do know that the person has been there for more than a day,” Kelly told WYFF. “So, we’re still going through the footage to see just how long they’ve been there.”

In a statement to WIS, Belk said: “First and foremost, we send our deepest condolences to the family of the housekeeping associate who was employed by KBS, which provides cleaning services at our Columbiana Centre location. At this time, we are working with KBS to determine the details around what happened. We have also made counselors available to Belk and KBS associates seeking support.”

The Lexington County Coroner’s Office told the AP that there was no sign of drug use, but an autopsy is planned to determine Durham’s cause of death.

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