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94-year-old former teacher's death in Columbia ruled homicide, coroner says

The victim has been identified as Robbie Atkinson, 94, a well-known former educator in the area.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Columbia Police and the Richland County Coroner's Office are investigating the homicide of a 94-year-old woman.

Police responded to a call of an unaccompanied death to the 1700 block of Calhoun Street in Columbia on Saturday around 3 p.m. A relative had called 911  after finding the woman dead. An autopsy conducted by the coroner's office discovered evidence that determined the death to be a homicide.

The victim has since been identified as Robbie Atkinson, 94, and has been described as a well-known educator in the Columbia community.

Allen University told News19 that Ms. Atkinson earned her bachelor’s degree the school in 1946. She then eventually became a professor at Allen where she taught English from 1952 to 1985.

Ms. Atkinson was also a descendent of activist Celia Mann and was instrumental in helping preserve the historic Mann-Simons House on Richland Street, according to Historic Columbia. 

One of Atkinson's neighbors, Tony Deloach, tells us he used to help her clean up her yard and take out her trash, "She was a nice old lady, I’m sad about what happened to her." 

Some other neighbors, Kieran McBride and Nick Yaggie say, “She was the one neighbor around here that we were really hoping to meet but unfortunately we didn’t get the chance. But we heard lovely things about her," they continue, "we’ve had some investigators come by and knock on our door and they’re asking people questions just if we’ve seen anything if we had any camera footage of anyone coming and going and unfortunately we didn’t have much to help being new to the neighborhood.”

Police have not yet said if they have any indication of who may be responsible. 

Richland County Coroner Naida Rutherford says, “she was a respected educator for many decades in our community and we’re asking that if you saw anyone again near the home or on the premises that you reach out. The area near this address is a well-traveled area by foot and by car and we’re just asking that if you know anything, please reach out.”

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 888-CRIME-SC or at midlandscrimestoppers.com.