Man, 42, found dead behind Supercenter

Tuesday, January 6, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:53 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A 42-year-old man was found dead behind the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Monday after police received a call at 9:56 a.m. from a Wal-Mart employee who reported that an unresponsive man was lying in an icy area behind the south end of the store, the Columbia Police Department said.

The man, identified as David J. Willingham of Columbia, was found lying near a fence wearing blue jeans, a gray hooded sweatshirt, a blue flannel shirt and one glove. Police described him not as homeless but as a “transient” and said he owned a car.

“He was a bit down on his luck and unfortunately didn’t make it through the winter,” said Columbia police Capt. Zim Schwartze.

Schwartze said that Willingham appears to have died from exposure to the elements. Investigators are unsure of when Willingham died, but he had been seen walking near the Wal-Mart area on Saturday, Schwartze said.

Sunday night’s low temperature at Columbia Regional Airport was 21 degrees with a wind chill of about 7 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

“Nothing appears to be out of the ordinary about this death at this time,” Schwartze said. She also stressed that Willingham’s death is not being investigated as a homicide.

An autopsy is scheduled for today.

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