• new page: 04.16.14
04.02.14: woman jumps off building in st. pete., man throws body out by mistake.
Nancy Yates, 96
04.02.14, tbo.com, Corpse mistaken for April Fools' prank in St. Pete.,
By Stephen Thompson,
Ronald Benjamin was working as the front desk clerk at Peterborough apartments, a downtown high-rise for the elderly, when he stepped outside for a smoke early Wednesday and saw the body of a 96-year-old woman lying in the parking lot.
Benjamin, 61, didn't think it was a body. He thought it was a mannequin and someone was playing an April Fools' Day prank on him. He went back inside.
About an hour-and-a-half later, at 6 a.m., his relief, Rose Anne Beavers, 62, arrived at the 16-story apartment building at 440 Fourth Ave. N.
Beavers believed it was a body. But Benjamin told her it was a joke, St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz said.
Then, Benjamin, Beavers and a third employee decided if it were a prank it needed to be removed from the parking lot, Puetz said. They decided the blood they saw underneath the body was red paint.
Benjamin enlisted the help of a couple delivering newspapers, and they and Benjamin dumped the body into a trash bin.
Two hours later, at 8 a.m., maintenance worker Johnny Williams, 42, arrived for work, Puetz said. Benjamin was gone, and Beavers told him what happened. Williams looked at the blood and thought it was no joke. He looked in the trash bin and recognized the body for what it was, and someone called the police.
Puetz said when investigators went to woman's 16th-floor apartment, they found a suicide note and a stool she used to climb over the balcony wall.
Detectives have not found the woman's family to notify them of her death.
Residents of the 153-unit building said she was from England, and that she sometimes talked about World War II. One said she had lived at the 62-and-over subsidized independent living facility for at least 20 years.
“We're tore over it,” resident Frances O. Watts, 82, said. “You just want to sit down and cry.”
“I feel bad for her, I do feel bad for her,” said Randy D. Crowley, 47, who lives at Peterborough because of a brain injury.
04.03.14, tbo.com, Man who mistook body for prank fired, By Stephen Thompson
ST. PETERSBURG — A front desk clerk who mistook the body of a 96-year-old woman for a mannequin before arranging to have the corpse dumped into a trash bin Thursday has been fired.
“He is no longer with us,” said Sheryl Case, the office manager at Peterborough apartments, a 16-story subsidized building in downtown St. Petersburg that is reserved for people ages 62 and above.
The dead woman’s identity is expected to be released Friday. St. Petersburg detectives emailed all the pertinent information to the law enforcement agency in England that patrols the neighborhood in which a relative is said to live.
A resident of the building, the woman hoisted herself over a balcony wall with the help of a stool before plummeting from her 16th floor apartment to the parking lot, police said. A suicide note was left behind.
The front desk clerk, Ronald Benjamin, 61, who has worked at the building for nine years, went out for a smoke at 4:30 a.m. and saw the body in the parking lot, but thought it was a mannequin placed there as part of an April Fool’s Day prank, police said.
When his relief came at 6 a.m., she told him she thought it was a body, but he maintained it was a mannequin, police have said. It was decided that if it were a mannequin, it had to be taken out of the parking lot and put in a trash bin.
Benjamin enlisted the help of a woman and her teenage son who were delivering newspapers to help him dispose of the body.
It was only after a maintenance worker showed up at 8 a.m. and looked into the dumpster — and recognized it as a body — that authorities were called.
Reached at his St. Petersburg rental apartment, Benjamin said through a co-worker he did not want to come outside to comment because he had become despondent, the co-worker, Mark Hill, said.
“He’s in there with his little dog,” Hill said.
Hill said Benjamin told him he thought someone from one of the neighboring bars had left the mannequin as part of an April Fool’s Day prank, and Hill said he himself had played pranks on Benjamin in the past.
Ashley L. Marshall, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, said the state agency does not monitor the building, which she said is neither an independent living facility, nursing facility, assisted living facility or a continuing care retirement.
Jimmy Wright, 73, a front desk clerk who works weekends, said there is a system in place at the building where employees will physically check on residents if they fail on a particular day to dial into a special monitoring system.
Wright knew the dead woman.
“She hasn’t been coming down for the last few weeks,” Wright said. “She didn’t come down to mingle with the residents,”
04.04.14, tampabay.com, Elderly woman who jumped to her death had been slipping in health and spirit
ST. PETERSBURG — Since the 1980s, Nancy Yates had charmed neighbors at the Peterborough Apartments with her British accent and steely independence.
The woman they knew simply as Nan had started the library at the complex, which caters to seniors, and seemed highly alert despite being one of the building's oldest residents at 96. Though hospitalized at least twice in recent months, she had bounced back, working out in the gym of the city's Sunshine Center across the street.
But lately Yates had been slipping both in health and spirit, neighbors say. She had become less talkative, was losing weight and was becoming forgetful.
About a week ago, Yates forgot that the water was running in her kitchen sink, flooding units below her. Yates seemed despondent, neighbors said.
Some time before dawn Wednesday, Yates climbed on a step stool to get over her window ledge and jumped 16 floors to her death, police said. A desk clerk later mistook her body for a mannequin that he believed was an April Fools' Day prank.
Though some aspects of her suicide are unusual, the underlying worries that might have triggered it are not. And while it's hard to believe that someone would endure life's ups and downs for 90-plus years and then commit suicide, experts say it's not unusual.
"Actually older adults have the highest rate of suicide of any population," said Charis Stiles of the Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention in San Francisco.
The elderly struggle with physical disability and isolation. They can feel burdensome to relatives and friends.
In addition, older adults tend to be more determined when it comes to suicide than younger adults. In general among all ages, there are 100 to 200 attempts for every completed suicide. Among adults over the age of 65, there are four attempts for every completed suicide. Using a gun is the most common method, followed by poisoning and suffocation.
Men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women, with the most at-risk being white men over the age of 85, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Women are less isolated in that they attach to other women," said Lanny Berman, executive director of the American Association of Suicidology in Washington, D.C. "So isolation is greater among men. They tend not to seek help."
Residents of Peterborough, 440 Fourth Ave. N, pride themselves on a sense of community and regard it as a place where people look out for each other. Yates was one of the most significant contributors to that atmosphere. Years ago she started the first-floor library, a cozy reading room with three leather couches and a nice selection of books.
Like other residents, she took advantage of the Multi-Service Senior Center across Fifth Street N. The "Sunshine Center" is a magnet for older residents, offering bridge and bingo, exercise classes and live music.
Toni Tufts, who lives in Peterborough, nibbled an English muffin in the Sunshine Center cafe Friday and remembered her friend of seven years. Tufts, 69, described Yates as "sweet and polite."
"No one had a bad word to say about her because she was a lady," she said.
Yates was born in England on Nov. 14, 1917. She told neighbors she had served with the British armed forces during World War II. Kenneth Shaffer, who lives across the hall, said Yates had told him she had known Winston Churchill during the war.
"I was so impressed with her, to tell you the truth," said Shaffer, 76.
Yates might have arrived in the United States by the late 1970s, St. Petersburg police said. She became a U.S. citizen and got a Florida driver's license. Neither police, who talked to a sister-in-law in England, nor neighbors could recall anyone mentioning Yates having been married.
In recent months, Yates seemed to withdraw.
"She used to be very friendly, but toward the end she became not talkative," said Joseph Rubin, 86, who lives three doors down.
Nearly two weeks ago, Shaffer noticed water soaking the carpet outside Yates' apartment. It turned out Yates had turned on her kitchen tap to wash dishes, then went into another room and watched television. Water entered the apartment below and an adjacent unit. The residents of those units said the flooding was minimal.
Nonetheless, the incident disturbed Yates. "She said, 'Ken, do you think they're going to evict me?' " said Shaffer. "I said, 'No, it's just a mistake.' "
The next day, Yates again asked Shaffer if she might be evicted.
"I think she was really concerned about that," Shaffer said.
At 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, desk clerk Ronald Benjamin, who had stepped outside for a smoke break, saw what he thought was a mannequin, police said. A couple of hours later, Benjamin — still believing the body to be fake — enlisted a teenager who was delivering the Tampa Bay Times to help throw the body into a Dumpster. Only later that morning did a maintenance man look in the Dumpster and discover the shocking truth.
No charges were filed, but Benjamin, 61, was fired.
"We are all in shock," said Tufts. "I'm doing stupid things because my mind is not on where it should be. My mind is on Nan in heaven."
She wonders if Yates saw the road ahead and decided to go out on her own terms.
"Nan didn't want to go to an ALF," she said. "She just chose to die in the building."
Yates left a note behind apologizing for her suicide and mentioning the flooding incident.
"That was a point of distress for her, that she had become kind of absent-minded and that had resulted in not just damage to her apartment, but to another individual," said police spokesman Mike Puetz.
The note also included a happier sentiment, Puetz said.
"She said she had lived a good life."
any more info is welcome.
10.28.13: Tampa International Airport officer shoots man, who then jumps from parking garage.
Allen Piano, 46
tampabay.com, TAMPA — An airport police officer fired shots Monday at a man who lunged at him in the Tampa International Airport long-term parking garage.
When the officer fired at him, the man jumped from the fourth floor of the garage. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office said the man sustained bullet wounds.
Airport officials describe the incident this way: The officer approached the man about 4:30 p.m. on the eighth floor of the short-term parking garage. The man said he was watching planes. A background check revealed the man was a sex offender for whom Pinellas officials were about to issue an arrest warrant, according to his probation officer. The probation officer also said a shotgun was missing from the home of the man's mother, with whom he lived.
About 5 p.m., the airport police officer found the man sitting in his car with a gun in his mouth on the fourth floor of the long-term parking garage. The officer ordered the man to put down the gun. The man got out of his car and lunged at the officer, who fired at him. The man then jumped from the parking garage, officials said.
The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation. The identity of the dead man is being withheld until his family is notified of his death.
More details about the incident were unavailable late Monday.
10.29.13, baynews9.com, Tampa airport officer shoots man who then jumps from parking garage.
TAMPA -- A man was pronounced dead Monday night at Tampa International Airport after a series of events that started with him saying he was watching planes and ended with him leaping off the parking garage, according to officials.
In between, an airport police officer fired shots at the man, who was identified Tuesday morning as 46-year-old Allen Piano.
The incident that began at 4:30 p.m. Monday when an airport officer approached Piano on the eighth floor of the short term parking garage. He told the officer he was watching planes, authorities said.
Police said the officer ran a background check, which revealed Piano was a sex offender who was about to have a warrant issued for his arrest. The man's probation officer told airport police a shotgun was also missing from the home of Piano's parents, with whom he lived.
A half hour later, police say, the officer found Piano on the fourth floor of the long-term parking garage, sitting in his car with a gun in his mouth.
Police said the officer ordered Piano to put the gun down. The man exited his car and lunged at the officer, according to police.
The officer discharged his gun. Police said Piano then turned and jumped from the parking garage.
According to the Medical Examiner, Piano was shot multiple times.
The officer involved is on routine administrative leave pending the results of the investigation.
any more info is welcome.
09.10.13: Lakeland Girl Commits Suicide After 1½ Years of Being Bullied.
Rebecca Ann Sedwick, 12
theledger.com, By Stephanie Allen,
LAKELAND - A 12-year-old Lakeland girl was found dead early Tuesday morning at an abandoned cement business in what her family is calling an apparent suicide.
Only a few hours before Polk County Sheriff deputies found her body, Rebecca Ann Sedwick changed her name on a social media messaging application to "That Dead Girl," but no one noticed until it was too late.
Polk County Sheriff deputies are still investigating the girl's death, but her family said they fear Sedwick took her own life after more than a year and a half of constant cyber-bullying.
"She has been bullied before and people had told her she needed to kill herself," Sedwick's sister, Summer Howard, said. "But we all thought she was fine now. No one had known."
Sedwick, of 135 Arizona Ave., was last seen leaving her home Monday about 6:45 a.m., according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office. Her mom, Tricia Norman, said she thought her daughter had walked to the school bus.
When Sedwick didn't come home Monday by 6 p.m., Howard, 19, called their mom, who contacted Sedwick's school, Lawton Chiles Middle Academy.
Norman said she was never notified that Sedwick had not showed up for class.
Polk County School District officials declined to comment on the district's policy regarding how parents are notified when students are absent.
Lawton Chiles Middle Academy Principal Sharon Neuman said the school system has an automated system that contacts parents if their child is absent, but based on information she received from the district office, the system had problems after going through an upgrade and is not in use.
"I don't believe they would have gotten the message yesterday," she said.
Deputies searched for several hours before finding Sedwick about 2:25 a.m. lying on the ground at a former Cemex cement site at 315 N. Eastside Drive, Lakeland, the Sheriff's Office said. Cemex representatives were at the location Tuesday morning, but declined to comment.
Howard said she told deputies Sedwick has snuck into the abandoned site, which is about half a mile from their home, to climb on the cement silos.
When deputies found the girl's body there, Howard and her family were devastated.
"I don't know what I'm doing," Norman said. "I don't know what I'm supposed to do next. I just lost my world.
"My life is just never going to be the same, I'm missing a big part of it, a huge part of it."
The Polk County Sheriff's Office said Sedwick had made comments about wanting to hurt herself before leaving for school Monday, but Norman said she thought her daughter's rough past with bullying was over.
"She put on a perfect, happy face, she never told me," Norman said. "I never had a clue. I mean, she told me last year when she was being bullied but not this year and I have no idea why."
Norman said she pulled Sedwick out of Crystal Lake Middle School in February after a group of peers jumped her and started sending her hateful text messages, such as "You're ugly," "Why are you still alive?" and "Go kill yourself."
The bullying got so bad at Crystal Lake that Norman said she had her daughter Baker Acted earlier this year after finding self-inflicted cuts on her arms and legs.
"When she was being bullied at Crystal Lake Middle, she used to come home every day and tell me how she wasn't worth anything, that she was ugly, how she was stupid," Norman said. "And I said, ‘Baby what on earth would make you think that? You're the most beautiful person I know and the smartest person I know.' "
According to the Polk County School District website, bullying is defined as the systematic or chronic infliction of physical or psychological hurt on a person. It can include teasing, intimidation, stalking, public humiliation and physical violence, among other things. School policy strictly prohibits all forms of bullying.
Norman said when the bullying didn't stop at Crystal Lake Middle, despite multiple complaints and school interventions, she decided to home-school her daughter for the remainder of last school year. Last month, she moved Rebecca to Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, where she started seventh grade with what Norman said she hoped was a fresh start.
Neuman said the school was just getting to know Rebecca. She remembered her smiling face as she walked to class. In those moments, the girl never seemed to give an outward sign of distress.
After breaking the news of the girl's death to teachers and students, Neuman said everyone was left wondering why this happened.
"Adults need to be openly communicating with our kids," she said. "We try to do that with them, so we know if they're hurting. But we saw no indication of that with her. We were just getting to know her."
Howard said she was close to her sister and had no idea she was still being bullied.
"She kept it all to herself," Howard said.
The 12-year-old was helping her friend, Alecia Wilkins, 18, plan Wilkins' wedding, in which she was going to be a bridesmaid. She seemed happy, Wilkins said.
But after deputies searched Rebecca's cell phone, her family learned the cyber-bullying hadn't stopped.
Rebecca was being bombarded with messages on her cell phone from social media applications, such as Kik Messenger, Instagram and Ask.fm, an anonymous messaging site.
"People just need to stop bullying, period," Howard said. "You never know whose life you're affecting."
Norman said she hopes other parents can learn from her tragic situation so nobody has to go through what she's facing right now. And even though Rebecca seemed happier, the bullies continued to torment her.
"Parents need to pay more attention. I mean, you think, ‘12 years old, how much trouble can they get into, she's my baby?' But parents need to be aware," she said. "I mean, even if your kids are good in school and they seem happy, there still could be something going on. And this is one of those cases where I would rather her be sitting here mad at me because I didn't give her any privacy, than to be gone because I'll never get her back. I'll never get her back."
An autopsy was completed Tuesday, but results are pending toxicology results, the Sheriff's Office said.
Norman said deputies found recent photos on Rebecca's phone of razor blades and fresh cut wounds. She said she doesn't know if she will ever understand how or why her daughter decided to take her own life, but she hopes bullies will learn that their words have consequences.
"They need to realize that when they say these things, kids take them serious," she said. "I mean, especially coming kid to kid, you're on the same level and if somebody says, ‘Go kill yourself, you're not worth anything,' they're more apt to believe it."
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