ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The body of a 96-year-old woman who fell from the 16th story of an apartment building where she had lived for years was toted to a trash bin because a clerk at the building thought the body was a mannequin.
Overnight desk clerk Ron Benjamin, 61, at Peterborough Apartments near downtown told investigators that he thought that the body was part of an April Fool's prank when he took a smoke break about 4:30 a.m. ET Wednesday and saw Nan Yates' body on the ground.
He asked a couple of newspaper carriers to help him carry the body to a dumpster. Hours later, a maintenance worker looked inside and realized that the remains were human. Apartment managers called police.
Investigators found a note from Yates saying she was committing suicide. Officers say she had been dead for hours and rigor mortis had set in, potentially adding to the illusion that the men were moving a mannequin.
Benjamin was fired from his job and said he is haunted by the vision of what he thought was a mannequin.
Yates loved to read and was heavily involved in the complex's library, resident Nancy Sanborn said.
"This is an absolutely wonderful place to live," Sanborn said. "It's not a place where you'd even expect anything like this to happen."
Police call Benjamin's actions a tragic mistake and say no charges will be filed.