Friends, family seek answers in San Francisco hospital disappearance, death

SAN FRANCISCO — Investigators have ruled out foul play in the disappearance and death of a San Francisco woman whose body was found in the stairwell of a hospital where she was a patient, a family spokesman said Thursday.

While the coroner hasn't established a cause or time of Lynne Spalding's death, investigators don't think the 57-year-old was the victim of an attack, family spokesman David Perry told reporters at the hospital.

Spalding's body was found Tuesday in a fire exit stairwell at San Francisco General Hospital, 17 days after she went missing. She was admitted to the city-owned hospital with an infection on Sept. 19 and reported missing from her room two days later.

Meanwhile, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced Thursday he was hiring an independent consultant to investigate the hospital's security and patient safety protocols.

"This should not have happened, we all agree," Lee told reporters at a hospital news conference. "And we want to prevent it from ever happening again."

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