Police Say A Worker Was Found Dead In A Belk Store Bathroom Four Days Before He Was Discovered

belk employee found dead
belk employee found dead

William Henry Belk established the American department store chain Belk, Inc. in 1888. It now has nearly 300 locations across 16 states. Clothing, shoes, accessories, cosmetics, home furnishings, and wedding registries are all available in Belk locations and online.

The worker was dead in Belk store bathroom for 4 days before being found

COLUMBIA, South Carolina — Authorities said a 63-year-old worker died in the public restroom of a South Carolina department store, but her body was not discovered for four days.

Bessie Durham, who worked for a company that cleans the Belk store at Columbiana Centre, was discovered dead on Monday, according to investigators. Her cleaning cart was in front of the restroom.

Durham was last seen at work on Thursday, and her body was discovered shortly after her family filed a missing person report, according to Columbia Deputy Police Chief Melron Kelly, who spoke to WIS-TV.

According to the Lexington County Coroner’s Office, there is no evidence that Durham was murdered or that she was using drugs. An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday to determine the cause of her death.

Durham was seen on a surveillance camera entering the bathroom at 7 a.m. Thursday and never returned. Her body was discovered around 8 p.m. The coroner’s office announced the death on Monday.

The store was open on a regular basis during those four days, and Kelly said police are looking into whether anyone was negligent.

“We’re still working with the store to figure out their process for closing down the store, inspecting the store, and things like that,” Kelly explained.

Belk is assisting authorities in their investigation and extends its heartfelt condolences to Durham’s family, according to a statement.


Belk was founded in 1888 by William Henry Belk in Monroe, North Carolina, outside Charlotte. The store was first called New York Racket and then Belk Brothers, after Belk made his brother, physician Dr. John Belk, his partner. Belk bought in volume to pass savings on and sold at fixed prices, then a relatively unusual practice.

By 1909, the company had moved its headquarters to Charlotte and built a huge flagship store on Trade and Tryon Streets in downtown Charlotte, which would remain the company’s headquarters until it was closed in 1988 to make way for the construction of what is now Bank of America Corporate Center. The business grew steadily, relying on “bargain sales” and advertising to grow the business and increase its influence throughout the South.

Beginning in 1921 with the Leggett Bros. stores of South Boston, Virginia, the Belk company grew by investing in various partnerships with local merchandisers in nearby markets. Belk’s growth out of the Southeast was pushed by Earl Jones Sr and the Belk-Jones brand that opened the first Belk west of the Mississippi in 1947. The Jones family and the Belk-Jones brand continued to grow Belk’s westward expansion. This complex story is chronicled in a book published by Belk – Belk, Inc.: The Company and the Family That Built It – about the evolution of the company.


Belk announced in December 2010 that it would take on the role of title sponsor for the Charlotte-based Meineke Car Care Bowl, which will now be known as the Belk Bowl starting in 2011. Three years would pass during the sponsorship. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and Belk have extended their bowl agreement for an additional six years, starting in 2014.

The bowl included teams from the ACC and the Southeastern Conference as per the agreement (SEC). On November 20, 2019, Belk made the announcement that, after the 2019 game, it would no longer serve as the bowl game’s title sponsor. Overall, Belk sponsored the bowl in nine different ways (2011–2019).

HImansh is a freelance writer and editor specializing in Public Relations, Culture, Politics and the intersection between them. He's a St.Xavier's College Graduate who has a degree in Public Relations. He's currently based in Chandigarh, India Word from Himansh: “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.”