A tragedy turned even more tragic when a suicide victim’s body, thought to be a mannequin for an April Fools’ Day joke, was thrown into a dumpster.
As reported by WFTS ABC Action News, the desk clerk at the Peterborough Apartments for Seniors in St. Petersburg, Florida was taking a smoke break at 4:30am when he found the body, that he thought was a mannequin, in the south parking lot.
The find occurred on April 2 and Mike Puetz, a St. Petersburg Police Department spokesman explained, "His first reaction to this was that it was an April Fools prank." The clerk solicited the help of two newspaper delivery people, including a six-year-old boy, and they moved the body to a dumpster.
It was not until later that morning at 8am that an apartment maintenance worker accurately identified the body as human.
Police were called and found that the body was that of a 96-year-old woman who had jumped from the 16th floor.
The woman, whose name has not been released as police work to notify her next of kin, was suffering from depression and left a suicide note.
Though it may seem absurd that anyone would mistake a human body for a mannequin, police have pointed to the darkness of the early morning as a possible reason for the confusion.
They also believe that the elderly woman’s body was distorted from the impact of her fall and rigor mortis had probably already set in when she was discovered.
A memorial has been laid outside the apartment building and the woman’s loved ones are trying to cope with the sad loss.
The St. Petersburg Police Department issued a statement about the incident saying, “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."
However, police say that the desk clerk was fired after the incident.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.