A Florida man working the desk at a Tampa Bay apartment complex for seniors nonchalantly disposed of the body of a resident who'd jumped 16 stories to her death.
Mistaking the corpse for a mannequin from an April Fools' prank. Obviously.
Tampa Bay Times reporter Weston Phippen detailed the story yesterday:
Ronald Benjamin, 61, looked onto the patio and saw a shape on the ground. It looked to him like a mannequin. An April Fools' Day joke, he concluded, and went back to work.
Two hours later, another employee of the senior housing complex at 440 Fourth Ave. N told Benjamin about the shape on the patio. It was just a prank, Benjamin assured her.
When a woman and her teen son came by to deliver the Tampa Bay Times, Benjamin asked the boy to help him move the mannequin into a Dumpster.
It gets worse ...
He grabbed the shoes and the teen clasped a handful of clothes, which was topped with a ball of whitish-gray hair. It weighed almost nothing, Benjamin noted, as they heaved it into the trash.
Benjamin saw what looked like blood, but he thought it was fake.
Hours later, other workers discovered that the shape in the Dumpster was not a mannequin, but a 96-year-old resident who had jumped 16 stories to her death sometime during the night.
They called Benjamin, whose shift had ended by then, and told him to come back. He was stunned when he was told that it was a person.
Benjamin, who was fired, says he is deeply troubled and contrite.
When the Times asked him about the mistake, he assumed that because the bars had just closed for the night, some reveler was having fun with a mannequin:
"I'm telling you, I swear to God, the face looked like a rubber mask. If I thought for one instant it was a person I would have called the police, my manager, everyone."
The woman, who was not identified, had left a suicide note and was described by an acquaintance at her nursing home as a "refined" individual.