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Clerk mistook body for mannequin

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POSTED April 4, 2014 8:28 p.m.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A 61-year-old front desk clerk at a Florida apartment complex was fired this week after mistaking the body of a tenant for a mannequin and throwing it in a trash bin.

Police said 96-year-old Nancy Yates hoisted herself over a balcony of her 16th floor apartment. She fell onto the parking lot and authorities found a suicide note.

Ronald Benjamin told police he saw the body in the parking lot of the 16-story St. Petersburg apartment building when he walked outside to smoke a cigarette early Wednesday and assumed someone put a mannequin there as part of an April Fool’s Day prank, The Tampa Tribune (http://bit.ly/1sgrkrQ) reported.

“He is no longer with us,” said Sheryl Case, the office manager at Peterborough apartments.

When his co-worker arrived around 6 a.m., she told Benjamin she saw a body in the parking lot. But he maintained it was a mannequin. Later he asked a newspaper carrier and her teenage son to help him put the mannequin in the trash.

Finally a maintenance worker saw the body when he looked in the trash bin around 8 a.m., and authorities were called.

Co-worker Mark Hill told the Tribune that Benjamin thought someone at a nearby bar had played trick on him.

Benjamin had worked at the building for nine years. The building is subsidized and reserved for people 62 and older.

Jimmy Wright, a front desk clerk who works on the weekend shifts, told the Tribune that there’s a system in place for employees to check on residents if they fail on a particular day to dial into a special monitoring system.

“She hasn’t been coming down for the last few weeks,” Wright said. “She didn’t come down to mingle with the residents.”

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