The Christmas shopping season was in full swing at the Gwinnett Place Mall on Dec. 21.
But that same day, a maintenance worker made a startling discovery in the Duluth, Ga., mall’s food court: In the back room of a vacant Subway restaurant was a decomposing body, according to the Gwinnett County Police Department.
The worker had been doing a routine inspection at 11 a.m. that day, he told police, but he found the restaurant’s side door locked. When he climbed over the counter to check the back room, he saw the woman’s body. She was dressed in a black, mesh-style jumpsuit, police said. Next to her feet sat her black tennis shoes.
She had died two weeks before her decomposing body was found, according to the medical examiner.
“It’s probably not a great reflection of the current private owners of the mall,” Jace Brooks, a local county commissioner, told an Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist. “[I]f I were actively managing a large retail facility, I would hope that I would notice a body of a woman that had passed away in that facility fairly quickly.”
After putting out a composite sketch depicting the woman they’d found, police identified her on Jan. 10 as Silling Man, a 19-year-old from Lawrenceville, Ga. She was a student at Georgia State University.
Police identified her by culling through tips they received after asking the public for help identifying her on Jan. 2, the Gwinnett Daily Post reports.
Man had first been reported missing by her family on Oct. 8, police said. Just days later she returned home, though, and her missing-person case was closed on Oct. 10.
But then Man “ran away again,” her family said, though they didn’t report her second disappearance, police said.
Man was seen on Nov. 20, when she picked up her final paycheck from a job at another shopping center in the area, the Perimeter Mall.
During the fall 2017 semester at Georgia State, Man was enrolled as a psychology major, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. She had not enrolled for the spring semester.
Investigators said the death has not been ruled a homicide, but added in a press release that “the circumstances surrounding her death are still being investigated.”
Police are still seeking tips in the case.