A man mistook the body of a 96-year-old suicide victim for a mannequin and threw it in a dumpster, thinking someone was trying to prank him with a fake corpse.
ABC Action News reports that the 61-year-old unnamed employee of a Tampa apartment complex for senior citizens was taking a cigarette break at around 4:30 am Wednesday when he saw the body in the parking lot.
He dismissed what he thought was an April Fools’ joke and returned to work. Another employee arrived two hours later and thought it was a mannequin with fake blood as well.
It was at this point when the desk clerk obtained the help of a mother and son delivering newspapers to put the body in a dumpster.
A maintenance worker came across the body at about 8 am and immediately realized it was a real human being.
The body was that of a woman who committed suicide by jumping from her 16th floor window.
A suicide note was found in her apartment.
Police said the desk clerk’s mistake was somewhat understandable considering the darkness outside and the body’s crumpled appearance due to the impact of the fall and rigor mortis setting in.
“Most people that are looking at this are going to assume that these people are all fools, but honestly it does appear that this was just an honest mistake,” said Mike Puetz, a spokesman for the St. Petersburg Police Department.
The desk clerk’s boss wasn’t as forgiving, however, firing the employee shortly after even though no criminal charges have been filed.
A memorial has since been laid outside the Petersborough Apartments for Seniors by friends and family members who described the victim as kind, upbeat and intelligent.