I think it's really sad that her public suicide has caused so much damage to this innocent man's life, emotionally and financially. I think firing Ronald Benjamin was a bit severe and another example of a company not caring about their employees emotional well being after they've had to face a bizarre situation in their workplace. Have some fucking compassion you robot assholes. The police believed his account and now he's in need of counseling. Hopefully he will get the help he needs. It sounds like Ronald's former coworkers have rallied around him and he has a little dog that will get him past this bad scene.
From NY Daily News:
The body of a 96-year-old woman who reportedly jumped to her death on April Fools' Day was picked up and thrown into a dumpster after being mistaken for a mannequin.
The desk clerk at Peterborough Apartments in St. Petersburg, Fla. told the Tampa Bay Times that he sincerely believed the body was a joke, possibly left by some kids the night before, when he heaved it in the trash Wednesday.
"I'm telling you, I swear to God, the face looked like a rubber mask," Ronald Benjamin told the paper from his home. "If I thought for one instant it was a real person I would have called the police, my manager, everyone I could think of."
Benjamin said he first saw the frail body lying outside the senior housing complex around 4:30 a.m.
There was blood, he said, but he brushed it off as fake.
Police, who don't plan to file criminal charges, believe him.
"Because of the height the woman fell it actually might have caused her features to be distorted, and possibly not look human to the unsuspecting eye," St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz told the paper.
Around two hours later, he said another employee asked him about it but he assured her that it was a prank.
To not create any more issue, when a 16-year-old paperboy arrived at the apartment Benjamin said he asked him for help moving it. The teen obliged.
Benjamin described the body as surprisingly light as they both lifted it into the dumpster.
As of Thursday the woman has not been publicly identified.
In her apartment, up on the 16th floor, police said they found a suicide note written by her.
Benjamin, who has since been fired by the complex where he's worked for the last nine years, expressed his grief and sadness over what happened.
"It's all I've thought about all day," he told the paper. "I haven't slept all day."
From St. Peter'sburg Tribune
ST. PETERSBURG — A front desk clerk who mistook the body of a 96-year-old woman for a mannequin before arranging to have the corpse dumped into a trash bin Thursday has been fired.
“He is no longer with us,” said Sheryl Case, the office manager at Peterborough apartments, a 16-story subsidized building in downtown St. Petersburg that is reserved for people ages 62 and above.
The dead woman’s identity is expected to be released Friday. St. Petersburg detectives emailed all the pertinent information to the law enforcement agency in England that patrols the neighborhood in which a relative is said to live.
A resident of the building, the woman hoisted herself over a balcony wall with the help of a stool before plummeting from her 16th floor apartment to the parking lot, police said. A suicide note was left behind.
The front desk clerk, Ronald Benjamin, 61, who has worked at the building for nine years, went out for a smoke at 4:30 a.m. and saw the body in the parking lot, but thought it was a mannequin placed there as part of an April Fool’s Day prank, police said.
When his relief came at 6 a.m., she told him she thought it was a body, but he maintained it was a mannequin, police have said. It was decided that if it were a mannequin, it had to be taken out of the parking lot and put in a trash bin.
Benjamin enlisted the help of a woman and her teenage son who were delivering newspapers to help him dispose of the body.
It was only after a maintenance worker showed up at 8 a.m. and looked into the dumpster — and recognized it as a body — that authorities were called.
Reached at his St. Petersburg rental apartment, Benjamin said through a co-worker he did not want to come outside to comment because he had become despondent, the co-worker, Mark Hill, said.
“He’s in there with his little dog,” Hill said.
Hill said Benjamin told him he thought someone from one of the neighboring bars had left the mannequin as part of an April Fool’s Day prank, and Hill said he himself had played pranks on Benjamin in the past.
Ashley L. Marshall, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, said the state agency does not monitor the building, which she said is neither an independent living facility, nursing facility, assisted living facility or a continuing care retirement.