Employee was dead in bathroom of Belk department store for 4 days


COLUMBIA, SC — A 63-year-old worker died in the public bathroom of a South Carolina department store, but her body was only discovered four days ago, authorities said.

Bessie Durham, who worked for an outside company cleaning the Belk store in Columbiana Center, was found dead Monday, investigators said. Her cleaning cart was outside the toilet.

Durham was last seen at work on Thursday and her body was found shortly after her family filed a missing persons report, Columbia Deputy Police Chief Melron Kelly told WIS-TV.

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The Lexington County coroner said there are no signs that anyone killed Durham or that she was using drugs. An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday to determine her cause of death.

Durham was seen on a security camera going into the bathroom at 7 a.m. Thursday and she couldn’t get out. Her body was found around 8 p.m. Monday, the coroner said.

The store was open regularly during those four days, and Kelly said police are investigating whether anyone was negligent.

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“We’re still working with the store to find out what their process is for closing the store, inspecting the store and the like,” Kelly said.

Belk is helping authorities find out what happened and extends his deepest condolences to Durham’s family, the company said in a statement.



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