Karen Turner wants to know why Walmart employees told her that their bathroom stalls were unoccupied, even though they contained the body of Karen’s husband, 41-year-old airline mechanic Steven Turner. Karen needlessly spent hours searching for her husband, who went missing after dropping off his car that morning for an oil change. Walmart has yet to respond to a letter Karen sent in September. No condolences, no explanation. Nothing but silence.
Steve Turner was an airline mechanic. The day that he went to the Wal-Mart he was scheduled to work a shift beginning at about noon. He got to the store shortly before 8 a.m. and called Karen to ask if there was anything that she wanted him to pick up while he was there.
“We said that we loved each other and that was it,” she said. “Then, when I didn’t hear from him by noon, I knew something was wrong. He was never late.”
Karen went to the store and asked employees to help her search for her husband. One of the first places they checked was the bathroom. She said that a custodian had the door blocked for cleaning and told her the room was empty. She would learn later that her husband had died in one of the stalls of an aortic dissection, a weakened blood vessel that ruptured. It’s the same condition that killed actor John Ritter.
“Steve showed no signs of anything being wrong,” she said. “I was told that he probably died suddenly at 8:30 that morning.”
Karen called the police. She roamed the store for hours. But it wasn’t until 5 p.m., when another janitor mentioned that a customer seemed to be spending the afternoon in the bathroom that she rushed in and found Steve’s body.
Attorney Douglas Belknap later wrote a letter for her to Wal-Mart officials. It reads in part:
“I do not ‘represent’ Karen in the usual sense and I do not intend to file a lawsuit. Karen simply wants to make sure that someone at Wal-Mart’s corporate level understand the excruciating mental anguish she suffered as a result of almost unbelievable set of circumstances that she hopes Wal-Mart will prevent from recurring.”
The Arizona Republic contacted Walmart for comment, but like Karen, received no response.
Karen’s son is 5. She was hoping to show him correspondence from Wal-Mart when he’s older as a way of explaining what happened. It’s still possible a note of some kind will arrive.