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Florida clerk who mistook body for mannequin fired

Suicide Victim's Body Mistaken for Mannequin on April Fool's Day

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- A 61-year-old front desk clerk at a Florida apartment complex was fired this week after mistaking the body of a tenant for a mannequin and throwing it in a trash bin.

Ronald Benjamin told police he saw the body in the parking lot of the 16-story St. Petersburg apartment building when he walked outside to smoke a cigarette early Wednesday and assumed someone put a mannequin there as part of an April Fool's Day prank, The Tampa Tribune reported.

"He is no longer with us," Sheryl Case, the office manager at Peterborough apartments, said.

Police said the 96-year-old woman hoisted herself over a balcony of her 16th floor apartment. She fell onto the parking lot. Authorities found a suicide note. Her identity hasn't been released.

When his co-worker arrived around 6 a.m., she told Benjamin she saw a body in the parking lot. But he maintained it was a mannequin. Later he asked a newspaper carrier and her teenage son to help him put the mannequin in the trash.

Finally a maintenance worker saw the body when he looked in the trash bin around 8 a.m., and authorities were called.

Co-worker Mark Hill told the Tribune that Benjamin thought someone at a nearby bar had played trick on him.

Benjamin had worked at the building for nine years. The building is subsidized and reserved for people 62 and older.

Jimmy Wright, a front desk clerk who works on the weekend shifts, told the Tribune that there's a system in place for employees to check on residents if they fail on a particular day to dial into a special monitoring system.

"She hasn't been coming down for the last few weeks," Wright said. "She didn't come down to mingle with the residents."


Information from: The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune, http://www.tampatrib.com

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

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LL April 04 2014 at 5:21 PM

C'mon man - no one is STUPID enough to not know the difference between a corpse and a mannequin, no matter how hard they attempt to sell that one !

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
Tom LL April 04 2014 at 6:08 PM

Gail, you've forgotten about the republicans. They're stupid enough to believe the stuff they spew on the Fox News.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
rbaker62 April 04 2014 at 4:33 PM

Ok, so, not only did the clerk not realize the body was a real person but neither did the mail carrier or her son? Who makes this stuff up?

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
Roger Mitchell rbaker62 April 04 2014 at 5:48 PM

The guy who makes the Twilight zone pictures

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mamadutch April 04 2014 at 9:59 PM

Shame he lost his job. Agree that it would be hard to mistake a human body from a mannequin, but not having been there, would think his employer would cut him some slack.

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1 reply
Bernie mamadutch April 04 2014 at 10:21 PM

according to the article he helped move the body to the dumpster…… doesn’t appear it should be very hard to tell the difference…….

Flag Reply +1 rate up
wizzlewolf April 04 2014 at 4:27 PM

This person who was fired was interviewed via our local news. He is devastated. He was sincere and apologetic. It was dark when this happened. The woman was 96 years old, gaunt, and very skinny. I can understand his perception. While being interviewed, he was in near tears. He didn't know or recognize the reality. The 96 year old woman had a very wrinkled face and he mistook it for a prank. My goodness, I am 60 years old and the only reason this would never happen to me is because I am too fat. My face is all wrinkled but I am fatter than any mannequin. This being said, I don't condemn this man. He tried to do a good thing. He didn't realize what was going on and I understand why he was confused. I say RIP to the woman. I say things will be OK for the front desk clerk. He did the best he could at the time. Don't judge.

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3 replies
Cckkmf April 04 2014 at 11:16 PM

May you rest in peace poor soul.

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thetortor April 04 2014 at 4:20 PM

When a body has rigormortis, it is so stiff that it could be mistaken for a mannequin. If the deceased lady was small and light, that could add to the effect. I feel sorry for her, and for the folks that found her. Imagine how terrible they must feel, and to then be fired. That's a triple tragedy.

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2 replies
thetortor thetortor April 04 2014 at 4:23 PM

Sorry Bob, if she was heavily clothed and light of weight, and being as it was April 1st, then it's a mistake that could be made by the unobservant. The folks who helped didn't question the man's assertion that she was a mannequin, perhaps because he seemed so convinced and also held a position that they perceived of being "in charge." I feel sorry for all involved.

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1 reply
lungfishh thetortor April 04 2014 at 6:10 PM

If she was light of weight, Why three people to carry to the dumpster?

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reakemble thetortor April 04 2014 at 4:46 PM

Rigomortis doesn't last. If she had been out there awhile, the rigomortis may have come and gone. but you"re right. If she was in a state of rigormortis, and it was dark ( but aren't most apartment parking lots lit?) I suppose he could mistake it for a maaequin. Still, STUPID< STUPID< STUPID

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Judith April 04 2014 at 6:21 PM

Right - she threw herself off the 16th Floor and there was no blood, her arms had no visible sockets at the wrists and elbows, her body flopped and wasn't stiff when she was picked up, yet not only did the clerk mistake her for a mannequin, but so did the newpaper carrier and the teenager who helped him throw the lady in the trash bin. Sorry, I don't buy it - something is really off here but I can't even conceive of what it could be.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
d1anaw Judith April 04 2014 at 6:59 PM

Not only that, but since when does a hollow mannequin weigh the same as a human body? And what about the blood? Duh.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
cenvalref April 04 2014 at 11:38 PM

Well who ever helped him put the body into the trash bin also thought it was a manniquen.

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cycantuc35 April 05 2014 at 12:15 AM

no way! I've worked in the funeral industry for years and have removed people from every type of enviroment, I guarantee you, you would know if it was a dead body.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
Lord Caim April 05 2014 at 12:42 AM

the disturbing(and confusing) thing here is, he didnt just think the body was a dummy, but he convinced several other people it was too?

Flag Reply +6 rate up
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