St. Petersburg, FL – The St. Petersburg man who made national headlines for mistaking the body of an elderly woman who had jumped to her death for a mannequin is apologizing and asking for his job back.
"I'm sorry I made such a horrible mistake, but that's all it was," Ronald Benjamin said. "It was just an honest, honest mistake."
Benjamin found the woman's body last week outside the Petersborough Apartments on 4th Avenue North where he's worked for the past nine years. He thought it was part of an April Fools' joke.
"If you weren't there, you don't know. It was half dark, 4:30 in the morning."
Benjamin says three others also saw the woman's body and they didn't realize it wasn't a mannequin either.
Police say the woman, identified as Nancy Yates, jumped from the 16th floor of the Petersborough building.
"I did not know the lady. I (had) never seen her in the nine years I was there, because if they don't come down at nighttime, I don't know who they are."
Benjamin worked as an overnight clerk at the Petersborough building before being fired. The 61-year-old feels he's getting a bad rap and says he'd like the chance to return to his old job.
"I would appreciate the chance to go back. I'd like to go back. Like I've said, that's all I've known for nine years."
Apparently some residents want him back too. A petition is now circulating asking the company to re-hire Benjamin.
An Air Force veteran, Benjamin says he's filed for unemployment and applied for food stamps. He says he has little money and is just praying for a second chance.
"I loved everybody over there. I never had a problem with any of them and I've always done my best over there."
The building manager on Tuesday told 10 News she had no comment about Benjamin's firing or the petition.
Calls to Carteret Management Corporation, the company which manages the property were also not returned.