Worker Found Dead in Department Store Bathroom 4 Days After Entering

A woman walks out of a Belk store in McKinney, the United States, on Jan. 28, 2021. Belk, the North Carolina-based department store chain which has served generations of shoppers for over 100 years, announced on Jan. 26 that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. (Photo by Dan Tian/Xinhua …
Xinhua/Dan Tian via Getty Images

A woman was discovered dead inside a Belk department store bathroom in Columbia, South Carolina, four days after she had entered the room.

Bessie Durham, 63, an employee who works for an outside company that cleans the Belk store, was seen on surveillance footage entering the bathroom at 7:00 a.m. on Thursday but was not discovered until 8:00 p.m. on Monday, according to authorities via WIS.

Her cleaning cart was found outside the bathroom.

Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fischer believes there was no foul play and no suspected drug use, the Associated Press reported. An autopsy is set for Thursday in Charleston.

The Columbia Police Department is still investigating how no one noticed Durham’s body inside the bathroom for four days.

“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,” Melron Kelly, Deputy Chief of Police, told WYFF.

“So, we’re still going through the footage to see just how long they’ve been there,” he added.

Kelly noted that police were made aware of Durham’s disappearance after a family member filed a missing person’s report.

One Columbia resident was baffled as to how an incident such as this could occur during a busy shopping weekend.

“There are a lot of questions that need to be answered,” said Beverly Stroman. “You wonder why the customers didn’t see it and report it, but you would think, the employees if she’s still on the clock, would know that and go and check to see where she was.”

Belk issued a statement sending its “deepest condolences” to Durham’s family and that it is working with the contracted company to determine “what happened.”

You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.