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mannequinStPetersburg, FL – A desk clerk at an apartment complex thought the body of a 96-year-old woman found in the parking lot was an April Fool’s prank, so he tossed her body in a dumpster.

While taking a smoke break, 61-year-old Ronald Benjamin noticed the woman’s body lying in the parking lot. Thinking it was a mannequin placed there as an April Fool’s prank, Benjamin finished his cigarette and returned to his desk.

What he did not know was the body was not a prank. The body belonged to a 96-year-old woman who had been suffering from depression and had jumped to her death from the 16th floor.

A couple hours later, at around 6:30 a.m., another employee saw the woman’s body and told Benjamin about it. He told her not to worry, explaining to her that it was just a prank. A mannequin probably placed there by some drunks after the bars closed.

When a teen stopped by to deliver the paper, Benjamin asked him if would help dispose of the mannequin. Benjamin grabbed the shoes, the teen grabbed a handful of clothing, and the two tossed the woman’s body in a nearby dumpster.

At around 8 a.m., a maintenance worker looked inside the dumpster and discovered the horrible truth. Benjamin had already left work by then, so he was called back to the apartment complex and informed of his mistake.

Benjamin was stunned. He explained that he was convinced the woman’s body was a fake as it weighed next to nothing, and the face looked like a mask.

“I’m telling you, I swear to God, the face looked like a rubber mask,” he told reporters Wednesday evening. “If I thought for one instant it was a real person I would have called the police, my manager, everyone I could think of.”

Police believe injuries the woman suffered in the fall, combined with the effects of rigor mortis, are factors that convinced Benjamin he was not dealing with a real body.

The woman is not being identified at this time, but friends say she’s lived at the complex for many years and had the mental acuity of a woman half her age. They also said she’d been depressed and suicidal lately. A suicide note was found her room, according to police.

Although no criminal charges will be filed against Benjamin for his faux pas, he was fired from his job as a desk clerk at the apartment complex after having worked there for nine years.

Someone give Benjamin a job, for God’s sake. This is Florida we’re talking about! We’re lucky he didn’t mistake that poor woman’s body for a delicious breakfast sandwich.

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