The 61-year-old clerk, Ronald Benjamin, first saw the 96-year-old woman’s body while he was taking a smoke break and returned to work thinking it was a joke. When another employee made a comment about the body, Benjamin told her it was a prank and then got two people who were delivering newspapers to help him put the body in a dumpster.
"His first reaction to this was that it was an April Fools’ prank," Mike Puetz of the St. Petersburg Police Department told ABC Action News. "A 16-year-old boy actually helped him carry the body to the dumpster where again they thought they were disposing of a mannequin."
A maintenance worker eventually came across the body and realized it was real.
"It appears at this point that the desk clerk earnestly believed that victim's body was that of a mannequin and that blood found at the scene was faked as part of an elaborate practical April Fools’ joke. Consequently no criminal charges will be filed," the SPPD said in a statement.
When police searched the woman’s apartment, they found a suicide note.
"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," Puetz said.
According to police, Benjamin was fired as a result of the incident.
[ABC Action News]
[St. Petersburg Tribune]