CHICAGO

Florence Banta Trash Chute Death: Missing Woman Found Dead In Same Chute Where Teen Died

The body of a Chicago woman who had been reported as missing since Saturday was found Monday at the bottom of the trash chute of her Gold Coast high-rise.

Chicago Police News Affairs told HuffPost that Banta, 80, was believed to be living alone on the 17th floor of the Astor Condominiums, in the 1500 block of North Astor Street, and was reported missing by her daughter.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office said Banta's body was discovered on the ground floor of the trash chute by a building engineer, according to NBC Chicago. Officers arrived at the scene around 10:30 a.m. Monday and found Banta unresponsive.

Area detectives are investigating whether Banta's fall was accidental.

The Tribune reports a police alert described Banta as fragile, possibly "suffering with anxiety and [she] may be upset," noting the elderly woman would "walk around the area where she lives...[She] has no money or identification on her."

One of the building's residents told WGN (embedded) the opening to the trash chute is only about two feet wide, but on the floor where Banta lives, the door to the opening is spring-loaded to shut quickly. The Tribune notes the city's building code requires "the minimum inside dimensions" of trash and laundry chutes to be 18 inches and self-closing to prevent the spread of fires.

Banta's tragic death is the second of its kind in the Astor Condominiums. Last February, Charlie Manley, a 17-year-old with Down syndrome and autism, fell 46 stories to his death through the building's trash chute.

The medical examiner will perform an autopsy before releasing the official cause of death.

CONVERSATIONS