A homicide investigation has been opened days after authorities initially believed a 94-year-old Columbia woman died of natural causes.
On Thursday, the Richland County Coroner’s Office and the Columbia Police Department held a news conference announcing the change in the manner of death of Robbie Atkinson, a woman the coroner called “a respected educator for many decades in our community.”
Atkinson’s body was found by a relative on Sept. 18 at a home in the 1700 block of Calhoun Street, according to police. That’s near the intersection of Elmwood Avenue and Bull Street, an area that is well traveled, according to Richland County Coroner Naida Rutherford.
After receiving a 911 call, officers responded to the home at about 3 p.m., police said.
While there were no immediate signs of foul play at the scene, an autopsy conducted by the coroner’s office found evidence of a homicide, according to police.
Information about what led to that determination was not available.
No cause of death has been announced by the coroner’s office.
Rutherford said further details are limited because the investigation is ongoing.
“We’re looking for information,” said Rutherford. “We want the public and anyone who saw anything to let us know. ... We’re asking the public to come together and reach out if you saw anything suspicious.”
There were no signs of forced entry at the home, according to Rutherford.
Atkinson’s death continues to be investigated by police and the coroner’s office.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook said.
Anyone with information is asked to call call 803-576-1799, or CrimeStoppers at 888-CRIME-SC or submit an online tip.
This is a developing story, check back for updates.