First Responders Mistake Fire Victim For Mannequin, Throw Body In Dumpster

By Jason Hall

July 30, 2021

Mannequin with a red wig
Photo: Getty Images

Local authorities in Canada apologized after mistaking a woman's burnt body for a mannequin before throwing it in a dumpster.

CBC reports the police and fire departments in Sherbrooke, Quebec held a joint press conference to apologize for the events on Thursday (July 29) nearly a week after the initial incident took place.

Sherbrooke Police Chief Danny McConnell confirmed firefighters received a call regarding a small brush fire near a factor on Cabana Street at around 10:00 a.m. on July 23.

"When they arrived, witnesses declared that someone had lit a silicone mannequin on fire," McConnell said, adding that the police department was requested to assist firefighters upon the discovery. 

"After discussions between the two departments, it was agreed that the mannequin would be disposed of in the container at the Sherbrooke police service, which cannot be accessed by members of the public."

At 2:15 p.m., a man filed a missing person report for his partner, about four hours after firefighters disposed of the container.

Sherbrooke Police tracked the woman's cellphone signal to her car, which was parked in an area near the site of the fire on Cabana Street.

"A police officer who intervened earlier raised the coincidence insightfully," McConnell said.

Police then retrieved what was initially perceived to be a mannequin from the container and successfully identify it as the body of the missing woman.

"We are obviously sorry about this situation and rest assured the family is being advised about every key detail of this investigation," McConnell said. "Our hearts are with the family, her partner and the kids in this very tragic situation."

McConnell said Sherbrooke Police are now working with the coroner's office in the ongoing investigation and the Crown prosecutor's office and the Bureau of Independent Investigations (BEI) -- which serves as Quebec's police watchdog -- have both been consulted in relation to the case.

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