SAN FRANCISCO -- Family and friends of a San Francisco woman who vanished from her hospital room nearly three weeks ago fear that a body found in a hospital stairwell Tuesday may be hers, a spokesman said.
Lynne Spalding, 57, a longtime San Francisco resident and mother of two, disappeared from San Francisco General Hospital on Sept. 21 after being admitted two days earlier following a visit to the emergency room.
David Perry, a friend of Spalding's who has served as a family spokesman, said he spent much of Tuesday at the hospital and had been in touch with Spalding’s 23-year-old daughter.
“She is distraught,” Perry said. “I would be lying if I said it doesn’t look good.”
In a statement, the hospital said an employee had found the body of a woman in an exterior stairwell at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Investigators said the woman had not yet been identified.
Perry said he was told that Spalding had been diagnosed with a urinary tract infection or bladder infection and had been disoriented, possibly from medication, prior to her disappearance. He said she went to the hospital at her daughter’s urging because she had lost considerable weight and felt ill.
Family and friends distributed hundreds of fliers after she vanished and launched a Facebook page to help find her. San Francisco police were handling her case as a missing person’s investigation.
“To find out her body was here after all our searching would be very disturbing -- and not just to Lynne’s family,” Perry said. “It should be disturbing to anyone.”
Spalding was discovered missing from her room about 10:30 a.m. Her cellphone was left on a chair. When friends came to visit her at 11 a.m., hospital staff informed them that she was she was missing, Perry said. At the time, there was a severe rainstorm.Perry said the hospital had promised to search the premises, and he was baffled that she had not been found. He described the stairwell where the body was found as enclosed with wire mesh and open to the elements.
He said he assumed that Spalding was wearing a hospital identification bracelet, but that had not been confirmed.Perry said Spalding had a career in the hospitality industry and was between jobs when she became ill. He described her as fun-loving and vivacious. “She was a live wire,” he said.
“Someone’s family is going to be grieving tonight because a body was found in a hospital, and nobody knows how it got there,” Perry said. “It is very disturbing.”
Another friend said Spalding had lived in San Francisco for about 30 years but spoke in a British accent. Spalding was divorced. She also had a 19-year-old son who lived with his father.ALSO: @mauradolan