Spring Hill, Florida -- Two men hired to clean out a home on Tree Haven Drive found what they thought was a bad mannequin from Halloween in the garage, cut it down and took it to the dump.
But it was the corpse of 33-year-old Jeremy Witfoth, who investigators say hanged himself several weeks ago.
Then, Israel Lopez tried to dispose of the body at the Hernando County dump. Deputies arrived and asked him why. His co-worker, Adam Hines, stayed at the house to continue the work.
"The men thought it was a Halloween decoration in bad taste, left there by the former tenants for the landlord," said Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis.
The men's story matched that of the property owner who also thought it was a mannequin.
Neighbor Lindsay Brittin and her husband smelled something foul, but they thought it was the mounds of garbage outside the house. Brittin says mistaking the body for a mannequin is bizarre.
"How could they mistake a human corpse for a mannequin?" asked Britton, "I guess they thought the smell was from the garbage, too."
Funeral directors confirm a hanging body releases liquid, and in the Florida heat, a cadaver can dry out, losing the majority of its weight. Furthermore, investigators say the body was mummified, which may have fooled the man into thinking it was a Halloween decoration.
Because of the bizarre circumstances, and because everybody's story matched, no charges will be filed against the two men who discovered and then disposed of the body. Nienhuis is calling this a disturbing suicide.
This is the second time in recent months that a dead body was mistaken for a mannequin. In St. Petersburg, the body of a 96-year-old woman who jumped to her death was mistaken for an April Fools' prank and thrown in an apartment complex dumpster. The overnight clerk who removed the body was fired.