Bessie Durham: South Carolina janitor found dead in department store restroom 4 days after she went missing

Bessie Durham who was found dead on September 19 was last seen on surveillance footage entering the restroom but wasn't seen exiting the place

Bessie Durham: South Carolina janitor found dead in department store restroom 4 days after she went missing
Bessie Durham, 63, was found dead inside a restroom at a Belk Department Store in Columbiana Center on Monday, September 19 (Facebook/Og Bobby Johnson)
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COLUMBIA, WISCONSIN: The search for a missing South Carolina janitor has come to a tragic end as she was found inside a department store restroom four days after she was last seen. Bessie Durham, 63, was found dead inside a restroom at a Belk Department Store in Columbiana Center on Monday, September 19. Her cleaning cart was outside the restroom. Durham was last seen on surveillance footage entering the restroom four days earlier and was not seen exiting the place.  

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"The family is heartbroken with the loss of Bessie Durham," her son, Bobby Johnson, wrote on Facebook on Thursday. "We are still in shock and asking God to provide peace during this unforeseen circumstance." "As we grieve our loved one, we ask for your prayers and that you respect our privacy during this time," he continued. No evidence of foul play or drug use was found by the Lexington County Coroner’s Office. 

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Durham's body was recovered shortly after her family filed a missing person's report, said Columbia Deputy Police Chief Melron Kelly to WIS-TV. “We were with the family taking a missing person’s report, and once we were on scene and did a little investigating, we did discover the person deceased at the Belk,” he said. The same outlet reported that Durham was employed by KBS, a facility services company, and cleaned stores all throughout the shopping center. In a statement, Belk said it is looking into the "details" of the situation. “First and foremost, we send our deepest condolences to the family of the housekeeping associate who was employed by KBS, which provides cleaning services at our Columbiana Centre location", Belk stated. "At this time, we are working with KBS to determine the details around what happened," the statement continued. "We have also made counselors available to Belk and KBS associates seeking support." 

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The shoppers outside the mall were left totally shocked by the gruesome discovery. Beverly Stroman of Columbia said, “There are a lot of questions that need to be answered." Another customer said, “I was just there yesterday … if I’d gone in the restroom, which I usually do a lot, you know, I don’t know, that’s just terrible."

"She was a loving person," neighbor Theresa Boston told the outlet. "I hate that happened. She loved her kids, real bad. She got along with everybody, everybody loved her, everybody called her mama." Durham's friend Tiffany Thorpe added on Facebook, "She was so sweet and will most definitely be missed." Chief Kelly said they’ll continue to work with the employers and the mall to confirm when Durham was last seen, and they’ll be working with the Lexington County Coroner to determine when exactly she died.

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