SFPD seek man who gave tip about Lynne Spalding


The stairwell where Spalding's body was found is a locked one -- you can only exit on the bottom floor and leave the building. But on the morning of October 4, a man was knocking on that emergency stairwell door trying to get out onto a hospital floor. A nurse heard the knocking.

"She let him in on the fifth floor and said 'what are you doing here? This is an emergency stairwell.' He said 'oh wrong stairwell, thanks for letting me in' -- it was that sort of exchange that took place. Then he said 'by the way, it looks like there's someone further down on the stairwell maybe asleep, not sure, but there is someone down there,'" said San Francisco General Hospital spokeswoman Rachel Kagan.

Hospital staff says that isn't unusual, homeless people sometimes seek shelter in the stairwell.

"She said 'OK thank you' and called the sheriff's deputies to check that out. That was exactly the protocol, she did exactly what she was supposed to do at that time," said Kagan.

The man then walked away and police have spent the last few weeks looking at employee badges, trying to find the man. They are now going public with the search.

"This person who was let in becomes super important. He may have some real important information about her," said Kagan.

Spalding's body was discovered in that stairwell three days after the man reported seeing someone. She was in the hospital for a bladder infection, disappeared from her room September 21 and was found dead on the hospital stairs two and a half weeks later.

"The staff are grieving. We have been having meetings with them to help them process their grief and help them kind of own what happened, but also to think about how we move forward as an organization," said Kagan.

The San Francisco Sheriff's Department is in charge of security at the building and is investigating the case.

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