SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A University of California, San Francisco researcher – who works at San Francisco General Hospital – has come forward to tell police what he saw prior to the discovery of a missing patient in a locked stairwell.

According to officials at SF General, the man came forward last week, after seeing a flyer about the case of Lynne Spalding.

Spalding was being treated for an infection at the hospital when she disappeared from her room on September 21. No one reported seeing her until her body was discovered in a stairwell on October 8.

Now, investigators are trying to piece together whether anyone spotted her on that landing before then and if proper search protocols were followed. Officials said the mystery witness is key to establishing a timeline.

“We don’t know the content of his interview with the police or what information he was able to provide,” said Rachel Kagan, spokeswoman for San Francisco General Hospital. “But I will say that we’re very pleased. We believe that it will get us closer to learning all the facts about what happened to Lynne Spalding in her tragic death, so that we can do whatever is needed to insure that nothing like that will happen again.”

It is believed on October 4, someone reported seeing a body in the stairwell, but sheriff’s deputies in charge of security never conducted a complete search.

While the cause of Spalding’s death has not been released, her family said police told them foul play was not suspected.

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department has apologized for the slow and incomplete search for the 57-year-old Spalding and has begun reassigning staff at the hospital on the heels of the investigation into her death.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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