MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A woman was found dead in front of Memphis City Hall on Wednesday morning.
Officers said foul play is not suspected in her death. Instead, they said the cold weather is believed to be what killed her.
The woman's body was found on a bench near Main Street and Adams Avenue--in front of City Hall.
Mayor Jim Strickland said she'd been staying at a home of some sort but ventured out into the cold last night on her own.
"I do know that she was in a home--either a care home or a personal home, one or the other--as of yesterday," Strickland said.
Strickland added that the woman got into a disagreement with other people who lived in the home which caused her to leave.
"I know she's not going to go to any mission, even though the Rooming Inn will take women all night long. As a matter of fact, they weren't turning anyone down last night," former homeless resident Terrance Anderson said.
Anderson believes he knew the woman, who has not been identified, and that she frequented the area.
"Some people just don't want to go in. They feel more comfortable on the outside. I guess they don't figure out it's going to get as cold as it gets. They don't watch the news; they are on the streets all the time," he said.
Temperatures dipped into the single digits overnight, and snow and ice covered the area where the woman had been resting.
Anderson said he lived on the streets of Memphis 20 years.
"When I got tired of it I went to treatment and overcame my alcohol addition," he said.
He said he believes more should be done to provide shelter for the homeless.
"I think yes, there can be a lot more done. I don't know the answer to that because some of these people have been out here forty-something years," Anderson said.
As of last year nearly 7,000 people were homeless in Memphis, and although MPD and Strickland emphasized that the woman was not homeless, her death is a reminder of that so many people have no place to go in these bitter cold temperatures.
"We're really working to get people where they need to be--off the streets," said Chere' Bradshaw, who's with Community Alliance for the Homeless.
Bradshaw works directly with different homeless service providers throughout Memphis and Shelby County. She said shelters are packed these days, but with the cold temperatures, they're not turning anyone away and they're doing everything they can to make sure people have a warm place to stay.
"Especially women. That's kind of the target population that we need more spaces for them to go but yeah, it's kind of busy," Bradshaw said.
"[Outside] is not a place where people should be," she added.
Memphis Police Department warns it is unsafe to stay outside for extended periods of time during this extreme cold.