The Core Shopping Center caters to the needs of Calgary, Canada's downtown office workers. Wandering its multiple floors over a series of city blocks, you'll find a mid-ranged food court, travel agencies, cell phone stores and stores flogging business attire – pretty standard stuff. Its white walls and polished floors give it an institutional feel that shouts "shop and bugger off." It's a mall! You could mistake it for any number of other shopping centers around North America, except for one thing: the Core has, or rather, had, a dead fella in the wall of one of its women's washrooms.
I spend six months of the year in and around Calgary and worked for a number of years managing mall cops. Lemme set the scene.
Instead of forcing maintenance personnel to rip a hole in a wall to access plumbing every time that there's a problem, a lot of mall bathrooms are designed to include small, lockable doors that provide access to the pipes. The wall that this door is baked into is often referred to as a "pony wall." Pony walls aren't designed for load bearing. They're there, primarily, to hide plumbing, HVAC and electrical conduits from folks using the building. It looks nice. In between a pony wall and the wall that lies beyond it, there's usually a small chunk of space – maybe one and a half feet feet deep – to allow workers to get parts of themselves and their tools into to make repairs. The access hatch for a pony wall can be locked and unlocked from the outside. The space behind the wall typically isn't large enough to safely accommodate a person. There's no reason to have a handle or a latch on the inside of the hatch.
Now, we're good to go.
Earlier this week, according to the Calgary Herald, one of The Core's maintenance personnel was dispatched to the woman's washroom by the mall food court. A toilet wasn't flushing. Easy fix. With his tools in tow, maintenance worker bopped into the stall in question, unlocked the maintenance hatch and found some poor, dead bastard jammed into the space behind the pony wall. It wasn't long before the police arrived on the scene, followed by one of the city's medical examiners. Soon after, the fire department showed up to help extricate the body from the wall – remember, the access hatches are large enough to get an arm and maybe your head into, but not a whole body.
From The Calgary Herald:
“Despite the circumstances of where the body was located, investigators do not suspect foul play and the death remains classified as undetermined,” police said in a news release.
The man’s identity has not been determined. Police said they are still investigating when he died and how he ended up inside the wall.
Poole said earlier that it’s possible someone crawling through a vent or duct fell from above and got stuck.
“That would be the most logical … that it was from above,” said Poole. “That is obviously something they would be looking at is someone crawling through the ventilation system."
No matter how he got into the space behind the wall or why he might have been crawling around the mall's HVAC system, that's a terrible way to die. The poor maintenance worker that made the ugly discovery has been given a few days off, with pay, and has been encouraged to seek out therapeutic counseling.
Image via Flickr, courtesy of Tony Webster