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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Ronald Benjamin, a front-desk clerk at a Florida apartment complex, was fired this week after mistaking the body of a 96-year-old tenant for a mannequin and tossing it in a trash bin.

Police said the tenant, Nancy Yates, hoisted herself over a balcony of her 16th-floor apartment and landed in the parking lot. Authorities found a suicide note.

Benjamin, 61, told police he saw the body in the parking lot of the 16-story Peterborough apartments in St. Petersburg 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 reported.

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

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When a 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 purported mannequin in the trash.

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 a 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, who works the front desk on the weekend, 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 of Yates. “She didn’t come down to mingle with the residents.”

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