Lexington County Coroner confirms natural cause of death for woman found in Belk bathroom

Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 9:11 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Lexington County Coroner, Margaret Fisher is releasing the autopsy results for 63-year-old Bessie Durham.

Durham was found dead in a family restroom in the Belk Department store at the Columbiana Centre around 8:00 p.m. Monday night, but according to the Lexington County Coroner, she was last seen entering that family restroom around 6:20 a.m. Thursday Morning.

Well, the coroner has confirmed that Bessie Durham died of natural causes and will not be revealing the exact cause of death at this time.

Fisher gave WIS more insight about the restroom that Durham was found in.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” said the Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher.

The coroner’s office was on the scene the night Durham’s body was found and surveillance footage from the department store showed when the woman was last seen.

“So, the footage shows that Ms. Durham comes in the store, and we see her walk into the area where the bathroom is located. At 6:20 she walks into that area of the bathroom and then she’s never shown on the video coming out of that bathroom,” she said.

The coroner confirms that Durham died inside the family restroom at 7:00 a.m. that same morning. The family restroom is located in the same corridor as the women’s and men’s restroom, but the county coroner told WIS the family restroom would automatically lock.

Fisher says, “For us to enter that bathroom we were given a key when we arrived on the scene. The bathroom door locked behind you and you would have to have a key to get back in.”

But there were no indications that the restroom was for employees only. Coroner Fisher says that Durham’s supervisor from KBS received a call from her family on Monday stating that she had been missing.

“At that point, they began to look at video footage in the store, and on the video footage they located her going into that bathroom in the store and they then went in and checked that bathroom,” she said.

Fisher tells me that the family is still trying to get answers as to how no one checked the bathroom for four days.

“Her family will not have the opportunity to view their mother because of the state that she was in,” said Fisher.

Durham’s body was autopsied early Thursday morning at MUSC. This investigation is still ongoing. WIS did reach out to CPD (Columbia Police Department) about Belk’s closing policies and procedures but has not heard back.

The full autopsy is not available as of yet, but we will make sure to keep you updated.

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