Man says he didn't detect Lynne Spalding was dead

ABC7 News has learned what the witness who saw Lynne Spalding's body at San Francisco General Hospital told police.
November 20, 2013 7:36:23 PM PST
ABC7 News has learned what the man who found a missing woman lying in a stairwell at San Francisco General Hospital told police.

As we first reported exclusively Tuesday, a mystery man who saw a person lying in a San Francisco General Hospital stairwell two weeks after Lynne Spalding disappeared, finally came forward.

The man is a doctor from India who's not yet licensed to practice here. UCSF confirms that he's a researcher there and San Francisco General Hospital.

Investigators hoped he could provide important information since he appears to be the only one who saw Spalding during her 17-day disappearance.

UCSF police distributed a flyer, which said they were looking for the mystery witness.

The UCSF researcher said he came forward after he saw it on a bulletin board.

He told investigators, "I'm the mystery witness."

It was Oct. 4, two weeks after Spalding vanished from her hospital bed, that a nurse heard a man knocking on the door of an emergency stairwell on the fifth floor of the building where her body was later found. He was trying to get out onto the hospital floor.

"She let him in and said, 'What are you doing here,'" hospital spokesperson Rachel Kagan said. "'Oh, wrong stairwell; thanks for letting me in,' and then he said, 'By the way, looks like there's someone further down on the stairwell asleep, someone down there.'"

The man then left quickly, never identifying himself.

The person he referred to, presumably Spalding, was lying on the stairs between the third and fourth floors. The nursing supervisor notified a sheriff's dispatcher who said they would check it out.

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said two weeks ago that his deputies dropped the ball because they never checked that stairwell.

"There's no indication that anyone was dispatched to that stairwell," Mirkarimi said.

Spalding's body was found four days later in that same location.

A source close to the investigation says the researcher told them he was on the fifth floor of the stairwell.

He said the unconscious person was lying between the third and fourth floors.

The man added he didn't go near it, or touch, or move the person and that he didn't know if she was dead or alive.

Investigators say Spalding was definitely dead by that time and that her body would have been badly decomposed.

He said he didn't detect that.

Investigators tell us that was the extent of what he knew.

San Francisco police say they've now completed their probe.

The only thing they're waiting for is the medical examiner's report on the cause of death.

"I'm very curious to certainly read the medical examiner report when we finally get it and it's kind of outrageous that we don't have it yet," Spalding family lawyer Haig Harris said.

Investigators say the medical examiner is waiting for the toxicology report and that should take at least another week.


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