CAMDEN — Leslie Lemoine went missing for nine months until her body was found in a clothing donation bin between a motel and daycare in Kershaw County.
Around 1 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, her decomposing body was found in a forgotten donation box in Lugoff, an unincorporated community just southwest of Camden. The trash can was rusty and the sign that said “Dump her clothes and shoes” was faded and torn. The officer had to cut the lock and pry open the door to the trash can.
Her daughter, 25-year-old Hannah Gates, wonders why no one noticed the smell.
“They gave me a VHS tape underneath her, so this really went unchecked for a long time,” Gates said. “It pisses me off.”
Partially mummified body found in donation box near Camden
Trash cans were located behind the Camden West Inn and in front of the nursery. Motel staff said the bin was on an easement and not the property of the inn.
An employee at the daycare said there was a problem with the sewage system and there was a strong smell coming from behind the trash can.
Police reported that it wasn’t until December 31 that passers-by noticed a smell coming from the dumpster and saw what appeared to be legs and feet wearing socks.
Gates said investigators are trying to figure out how her mother was put in the bin. There is a nature. Investigators are still awaiting toxicology results.
The Kershaw Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that the incident was still under investigation as a suspicious death.
Gates said he last saw his mother on March 29, 2022. Things were not good.
A few days ago, Lemoyne showed up at her grandmother’s house. Gates said she got high and aggressive. She was eventually arrested.
After Lemoine was released, she turned up at Gates’ house and asked for a ride. She drove her mother to McDonald’s in Lugov.
“The last time I saw her, I wasn’t very nice to her,” Gates said.
Gates said he wants those who love drug addicts to realize that what they say can be the last word.
“I wish I was more uplifted… I wish I could say ‘I love you,’ but I’m here for you,” Gates said. “I wish I could have told her that she was more than she is.”
At the time, Gates said he viewed addiction as a choice, a selfish decision that hurts others. But as the months passed with many prayers, Gates said his perception had changed.
“I really understand that she was just sick,” Gates said.
It wasn’t until several months later that Gates filed a missing persons report. She said it’s normal for her mother to be away from home for weeks. Lemoyne was homeless and often slept at her friends’ houses.
Gates made a post, asked for tips, and shared a photo of his mother’s thick, curly hair and a big smile.
Gates said his mother was always a free spirit. She was cheerful and kind.
She remembered a story about when Lemoyne was a toddler, maybe four years old. Lemoine’s mother was walking with her down the streets of Charleston, and within minutes her Lemoine somehow sneaked out, her microphone in hand and singing “I Love Rock n’ Roll.” I have reached the stage where I am.
At age 11, she stole a car and drove to the beach. For her eighth grade dance, she somehow sneaked into the barrel, her daughter said.
“She was not afraid of anything,” Gates said. “She never backed down from any challenge.”
Lemoyne was a familiar face in the area. She is from South Carolina and has lived in Kershaw County since 1989.
Gates got many hints, stories, and suspicions about what happened to his mother, but no real clues.
A coroner identified Lemoine’s body on January 4, putting an end to Lemoine’s family. A GoFundMe campaign was set up for donations to fund the funeral.
To donate, please visit https://gofund.me/53ca486b.