The woman whose body was discovered in the ladies room of the Belk at the Columbiana Center Mall has been positively identified by the Lexington County Coroner.
A Belk employee discovered the body of Bessie Durham, 63, of Columbia, soon after 8 p.m. on Monday in a store restroom on Harbison Boulevard, according to the coroner, Margaret Fisher.
In a statement, Belk stated that this was a family restroom, and it was later revealed that Durham, a third-party contractor, was responsible for the store’s cleaning.
The corporation issued a statement saying, “First and foremost, we express our sincere sympathies to the family of Bessie Durham.” “We’re trying to figure out what happened, and we’re making progress. Meanwhile, we have made it possible for employees to speak with counselors if they need help.”
The coroner’s office reports that Durham was last seen alive on Thursday, September 15, 2022 at around 7:00 a.m. when CCTV footage showed him entering the store’s restroom. It took nearly five full days for her to be located.
On September 22, 2022, MUSC in Charleston will conduct an autopsy on Durham. There is no evidence of foul play at this time.
The incident is still under investigation by the Lexington County Coroner’s Office.
The family of a young female reported her disappearance to police in the Monticello Road district of Columbia at 8:45 p.m. on Monday. It had been since Thursday, September 15 that anyone had heard from the woman.
The death of Durham occurred about this time, and store personnel discovered his body.
A woman was reported missing, and when police arrived at the Belk store, they discovered that she was the same woman who had been found deceased.
Employees at Belk have been interrogated, and statements have been collected, as part of the ongoing investigation by CPD. The woman’s family has been cooperating with authorities.
Open/close times at the mall are a focus of the investigation.