Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Residents rally for fired desk clerk who mistook body for mannequin

ST. PETERSBURG — His error turned him from an innocuous desk clerk on the graveyard shift into the star of a News of the Weird item.

In the predawn hours of April 2, police say, Ronald Benjamin mistook the body of a 96-year-old woman who had jumped 16 floors to her death for a department store mannequin.

Benjamin, 61, told police he thought someone was playing an April Fools' joke. Later, he enlisted a mother and son who were delivering newspapers to help him heave the body into a Dumpster.

It turned out that Nancy Yates, who lived in Unit 1604, had left a suicide note.

Police believed Benjamin did not know the body was real and declined to press charges. His bosses fired him the day of the incident. Now some residents of the complex that caters to seniors are coming to Benjamin's defense, saying the longtime employee should get his job back.

"It was tragic that Nancy took her life," said Anne Desrosier, who lives down the hall from Yates' unit. "But I can't find in my mind and heart any possible reason why he should be punished because he made an honest mistake."

Desrosier, 83, has circulated a petition addressed to Carteret Management Corp., which runs the 153-unit complex, and its board of directors. About 25 residents have signed it. Another 25 from Desrosier's church signed the petition on Sunday.

Desrosier said Benjamin was a polite employee who worked behind the desk with a Yorkshire Terrier and was always pleasant and polite. She considers his abrupt dismissal the result of "corporate thinking."

Neither Peterborough Apartments' management nor Benjamin could be reached for comment. The day he was fired, Benjamin told the Tampa Bay Times that Yates' face had not looked real and that he had been unable to sleep as a result of the incident.

A memorial service for Yates will be held at 10:30 a.m. April 14 at the Sunshine Center, 330 Fifth St. N.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at ameacham@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2248.

Residents rally for fired desk clerk who mistook body for mannequin 04/07/14 [Last modified: Monday, April 7, 2014 11:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Founder of Tampa home sharing platform questions Airbnb, NAACP partnership

    Business

    TAMPA — A Tampa rival to Airbnb, which was launched because of discrimination complaints on the dominant home sharing platform, has concerns about the new partnership between Airbnb and NAACP announced this week.

    Rohan Gilkes poses for a portrait at his home and business headquarters in Tampa. 

Innclusive, a Tampa-based start-up, is a home-sharing platform that focuses on providing a positive traveling experience for minorities. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  2. Senate rejects slimmed down Obamacare repeal as McCain votes no (w/video)

    National

    WASHINGTON — The Senate early Friday rejected a new, scaled-down Republican plan to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, derailing the Republicans' seven-year campaign to dismantle President Barack Obama's signature health care law and dealing a huge political setback to President Donald Trump.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. leaves the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 27, 2017, after a vote as the Republican majority in Congress remains stymied by their inability to fulfill their political promise to repeal and replace "Obamacare" because of opposition and wavering within the GOP ranks. [Associated Press]
  3. Pasco sheriff's team of volunteer Jeep drivers go where few dare

    Public Safety

    Times Staff Writer

    He got the text in the middle of treating patients. He was needed in the morning — and so was his dark blue 2002 Jeep Wrangler.

    The Pasco County Sheriff's Office's newly-formed Volunteer Jeep Search and Rescue Unit stops for a moment to wait for fellow Jeep drivers to catch up during a mock search-and-rescue exercise and off-road training in Shady Hills in June. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  4. The Daystarter: What's next after Senate rejects Obamacare repeal; Bucs open training camp today; Comic Con invades Tampa; get ready for back to school

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Jermaine Ferguson takes the $5 entry fee from a visitor at Fort De Soto Park on Wednesday. Pasco County has done away with recession era park fees. What about Pinellas and Hillsborough counties? [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  5. The Killers coming to Hard Rock Live in Orlando

    Blogs

    They're reliable festival headliners, and they're about to embark on a North American arena tour.

    The KIllers