It seemed just like any other maintenance problem at first.
In a downtown Calgary shopping mall Monday morning, a toilet in the fourth-floor women’s bathroom wouldn’t flush. A mall employee was called to fix it.
Attached to the wall behind the toilet was a panel with sensors that automatically flush when someone moves, Emma Poole, a spokeswoman for the Calgary Police Service, told the Canadian Press. When the maintenance worker removed that panel, he found a gruesome sight.
Behind the toilet, hidden inside the wall, was a dead body.
At about 9:30 a.m., police responded to reports of the deceased person found at the Core Shopping Center, a luxury mall with more than 140 stores. In the corner of a food court full of unsuspecting people, authorities cleared out the bathrooms, wrapping the entrance with yellow police tape. Authorities removed the body, which police said was that of an adult male — and wrapped it in a body bag, pushing a gurney through the crowds near a gelato stand.
Mystery surrounded the discovery. Who was this man, and how did he die? Police have not publicly identified him. But investigators said they ruled out foul play.
So how did this man end up inside the wall of a women’s bathroom, and how long was he there?
Poole, the police spokeswoman, said the man may have crawled through a vent and fallen from above before getting stuck in the wall. “That would be the most logical — at this point is that it was from above,” she told the Canadian Press.
On Wednesday, Calgary police released a few more details about the bizarre scene. The man’s death, police said in a statement, was “accidental.”
Investigators determined that the man, in his 20s, walked into the women’s bathroom on Friday night. No one else was inside at the time.
Then, police said, the man climbed on top of a “pony” wall, a seven-foot-tall wall located right behind the toilets. The wall, which is used to hide utilities, is not connected to the ceiling and has no other access points. Police say the man removed a vent cover located on top of the wall and climbed into the wall through the vent opening. He then became stuck inside the wall and eventually died, Calgary police said.
The man’s motivation for crawling inside the wall remains unknown, police said.
A spokesman for the Core shopping center told the Calgary Herald that the mall has offered counseling services to the employee who found the body. The mall is giving him time off “to deal with whatever he may be going through.”
“Obviously, the Core is trying to do anything it can to help,” spokesman Ricky Zayshley said.
For the spectators gathered in the food court when the body was found, the discovery brought a grim turn to an otherwise normal Monday morning.
“I’ve probably been, like, right by it and didn’t even know it,” one woman told 660 NEWS. That’s really scary to think.”
“I just came here for breakfast,” Ted Petrow told the Calgary Sun. He had been using the men’s bathroom near the food court when authorities cleared out both bathrooms to search for the body.
“I was going to meet some people, then all this transpired and they never did show up,” he said.
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