Dead bodies are being discovered in Walmart parking lots across the nation, but murders or safety hazards are not to blame, The Associated Press reported.
Why is this happening?
It's happening mainly because transient people are living in the retail giant's parking lots. A corporate policy allows truckers and other travelers to park overnight at Walmart with no questions asked. The policy can vary, depending on local laws and store managers. Sometimes people park there for just one night. Other times it's more permanent.
“And where people live, they also die,” the report noted.
The list includes people who are “homeless, truckers, immigrants, drug-addled, suicidal or ill.” Sometimes their bodies go unnoticed for days or weeks amid crowds of passers-by and cart pushers.
In Brevard County, Florida, police have investigated nearly a half-dozen of the deaths since 2015, according to the report.
Detailed descriptions are not necessary, but the bodies are often not noticed until they've been there a while.
“It’s unfortunate but these do happen. It’s not uncommon,” said Lt. Cheryl Trainer, a spokeswoman for the Melbourne Police Department. That agency has investigated the bulk of the Walmart parking lot deaths on the Space Coast, according to The Associated Press.
Officers wear hazmat suits as they process the grisly scenes. Police are left to sort through the left-behind remnants of person’s life — pill bottles, notepads or photos — to try to determine who they were and what happened to them, the report said.
“Family members, if any can be found, are contacted,” according to the report.
And it's happening in Walmart parking lots across the country.
“Most of the people we see are actually travelers, people in RVs. There’s like a whole society or culture out there. We do go out and check the lots, get the cars and keep an eye out for trash, but our workers aren’t peeping into people’s cars,” Casey Staheli, a spokesman at Walmart’s corporate headquarters in Arkansas, told The Associated Press.
Are there specific examples?
Some specific examples from the report:
- The body of a 49-year-old man reported missing for more than a month turned up on May 18 in a van at a Walmart in Bradley, Illinois. He went into the store on May 1 and died of natural causes in the van.
- On April 17, a 59-year-old man was found in a pickup truck at an Airport Thruway Walmart. The truck was parked on the side of the retailer since April 8. He reportedly died of natural causes.
- On Feb. 22, an employee found an unidentified body at a Tarpon Springs, Florida store. Police there said suicide is suspected.
- A California woman reported missing for months turned up dead in her car at Walmart in February 2016. She was there for up to three months.