Florida clerk who mistook body for mannequin fired
In this picture taken July 7, 2012, hairpieces are displayed on mannequin heads by a street vendor in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (AP / Dieu Nalio Chery)
The Associated Press
Published Friday, April 4, 2014 1:02PM EDT
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- 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."