Questions linger after body is mistaken for mannequin

St. Petersburg, Florida -- How does someone mistake a woman's body for a mannequin?

That's the big question after a bizarre incident in St. Petersburg.

Grief counselors are helping the people who live and work at the Peterborough Apartments retirement community near Mirror Lake. The counselors are there after April Fools' Day confusion led to a woman's body being put in a dumpster.

St. Pete police investigators say what happened before sunrise on April 2nd was a true mistake, but it's still so upsetting.

Police say 96-year-old Nan Yates took her own life. She left a note and fell from the 16th story of the building where she had lived for years.

The overnight desk clerk, Ron Benjamin, took a smoke break and saw her body on the ground.

But police say he thought it was an April Fools' Day prank.

He got a couple of newspaper delivery drivers to help him carry what he thought was a mannequin to a dumpster. Hours later, a maintenance worker looked in the dumpster and saw the woman's body. That's when police were called in.

"This is an absolutely wonderful place to live. It's not a place where you'd even expect anything like this to happen," says resident Nancy Sanborn.

That clerk, Ron Benjamin, was fired. 10 News caught up with him and talked with him off-camera as he was looking for a new job.

He told us he is "distraught and upset," and his pain was visible on his face.

Benjamin said he hasn't slept and he is still haunted by the vision of what he thought was a mannequin and everything he saw early that morning.

St. Petersburg police say this was a tragic mistake and because of that, no charges will be filed.


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