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Missing patient not a victim of foul play, family spokesman says

SAN FRANCISCO -- A spokesman for the family of a San Francisco woman whose body was found 17 days after she disappeared from her hospital bed said Thursday that investigators have found no evidence of foul play in her death.

David Perry, the family spokesman, said a source close to the investigation told him there was no sign that Lynne Spalding, 57, had been a victim of a crime.

Spalding was admitted to San Francisco General Hospital on Sept. 19 with a urinary tract infection and disappeared from her room two days later.  A hospital worker discovered her body Tuesday morning in an exterior stairwell used as a fire escape.

A spokesman for the San Francisco medical examiner declined Thursday to confirm Perry’s statement, saying the cause of death remained under investigation.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said at a news conference Thursday that he had spoken to Spalding’s adult daughter and would hire an independent consultant to investigate what happened at the city-owned hospital.

Spalding’s family has questioned why at least two previous searches of the hospital -- one by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department -- failed to find the woman.  Her family and friends had distributed hundreds of fliers in a search for her.

The hospital has said that Spalding’s health was improving, and she was in fair condition when she vanished.


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