Investigation continues into how woman was left in donation bin for months in Kershaw County

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Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 7:13 PM EST
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KERSHAW COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - Kershaw County investigators are looking into how a woman’s body ended up in a donation bin.

The body of 47-year-old Lesley Lemoine was found in a bin behind the Camden West Inn on New Year’s Eve. Lemoine’s daughter Hannah Gates says she’s been searching for her mother for nine months, and this discovery is giving her and her family some closure, but there are still questions.

Gates says she traveled by the Camden West Inn for months during the search for her mother, not knowing that her body was just a few feet away.

Hannah Gates, Lemoine’s daughter says she and her family had been on the search for her mother since March.

“I feel like we’re getting some closure that we’ve needed for nine months, and it’s hard, but we’re all processing it in our own ways, but it’s still a journey to get justice for her,” said Hannah Gates, Lemoine’s daughter.

That journey begins with finding out how her mother died and how she ended up in a donation bin that was left unchecked for months.

“We’re assuming that the location we found her in was just where her body was dumped at. So, it’s a dump location. Not necessarily the location of where she passed away at,” said Kershaw County Sheriff, Lee Boan.

Sheriff Boan says now with a positive ID, they can move forward in the investigation.

Sheriff Boan says, “We’ll start tracking from there and figure out what happened to her and who put her in the clothes bin.”

Coroner David West initially believed it would take up to six months to get a positive ID, but he says a tattoo on Lemoine’s calf recognized by her daughter sped up the process. But with the condition in which the body was found, it will make it a little more difficult to find out how she died.

“We go next to toxicology. Try to pull some kind of tissue and stuff like that. They were lucky enough to pull some of that,” West stated. “So, we go in there try and pull something from there, and that will be sent off for testing,” he added.

That will show if Lemoine had drugs in her system. They’re also planning to send her bones to an anthropologist to look for trauma. The next step for Gates and her family is to gain legal custody of Lemoine’s 10-year-old daughter Haven, and while she says she now has a sense of peace, she was hopeful that her mother would one day return.

Gates says, “I played the conversation so many times in my mind. At first, I thought I’d still be mad. First, I was yelling, you know, where have you been? Why did you just leave, and as time went it just got to the point where I just wanted to hug her and tell her that I forgive her.”

Gates says she’ll remember her mother as a kind and generous woman. Right now, investigators are gathering statements from the community and surveillance video from the back of the hotel.

The toxicology reports could take about six to eight weeks.

Lemoine’s family has put together a GoFundMe page to help take care of her funeral costs.

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