“She gone be missed around here:” Neighbors remember 63-year-old woman found dead in Belk Bathroom

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Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 9:57 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Thursday afternoon Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher released the autopsy results for Bessie Durham who died on Sept. 15. Durham was found dead inside a bathroom at the Belk Store in the Columbiana Mall on Sept. 19 by a co-worker.

Fisher said Durham died of natural causes and that there is no indication of foul play.


According to officials with the Belk Department Store, 63-year-old Bessie Durham worked for a company called KBS. The company provides cleaning services for not only the store but the entire mall.

WIS was inside the department store earlier today and we were able to find the family bathroom where Durham’s body was found.

It’s currently no longer open to the public and has a white sign taped to the door that reads “Out of Order.” WIS was able to find Durham’s home today and spoke with several of her neighbors who remember her as the light of their community.

“She gone be missed around here,” said Theresa Boston a neighbor to 63-year-old Bessie Durham.

Theresa Boston lived across the street from 63-year-old Bessie Durham. Boston tells me she was more than just a neighbor, but a friend.

She says, “She was a loving person. I hate that happened. She loved her kids, real bad. She got along with everybody, everybody loved her, everybody called her mama.”

Boston says, Durham will be remembered for her generosity. She would often cook food and hand out plates to people in the neighborhood, but she says she was also a family woman. Boston would often see Durham’s family stop by her home.

“She had two little grandkids that used to come over. I remember I would always compliment them because they had bows in their heads,” said Boston.

And she remembers seeing Durham leave her house that Thursday morning, but she didn’t know that was the last time she’d see her. A report from the coroner’s office says that Durham could be seen on surveillance footage entering into the bathroom where her body was found around 7 a.m. Thursday morning, but she never exited. Her body was later discovered around 8 p.m. Monday night.

Boston says, “My first thought was how could you not know a person was here when their cart is by the bathroom? You got a check-in schedule you know when they clock in and clock out. That’s just slack on they part and yes they should be held accountable.”

“The fact that she never clocked out or nothing, seemed like that should’ve been a red flag,” said Ike Abney, Bessie Durham’s neighbor:

Boston told WIS that her family knocked on doors around the neighborhood after they didn’t hear from her.

“I was the first person they asked because I sit here and I see everything. I’m always watching that’s why I said earlier, pay attention to your surroundings and everything around you,” said Boston.

The Lexington County Coroner says there’s no indication of foul play nor were there any indications of drug use. Coroner Fisher believes at this time that her death is a result of natural causes.

“She seemed like a pretty healthy lady, nice and friendly and all. It didn’t seem like she was sick or nothing,” said Abney.

While the Lexington County Coroner has received surveillance footage, the Columbia Police Department is still waiting on that footage to use in their investigation. WIS spoke with the Deputy Chief earlier today, who confirmed the bathroom Durham’s body was found in only locks from the inside.

The coroner’s office has scheduled an autopsy for Durham on Thursday, Sept. 22. We will release those results once they’re made available.

Watch WIS News 10 at 11 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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