There are quite a few ghastly stories of corpses discovered out in the open long after their death. How could a dead body be hiding in plain sight? In most cases, people believe it's part of a gag or an elaborate Halloween decoration and do nothing about it.
Most people don’t expect to casually come across dead bodies in public, but it has happened. And while some argue calling the police for every scary body prop you see is a bit of overkill, when you realize that actual bodies have gone ignored in the past, the inconvenience of calling the police officer is far better than the alternative. Because sometimes what seems like a harmless decoration or a silly act can actually be quite deadly.
A spooky ride in a California amusement park featuring a tunnel full of ghouls, demons, and skeletons called the "Laff in the Dark" also had an actual human corpse jumbled in with the props. The TV show The Six Million Dollar Man was gearing up to film, and maintenance workers were going through checking the decorations of the ride. What people thought was an incredibly detailed mannequin hanging from a noose was revealed as a dead body when an employee of the amusement park accidently broke off an arm and found what he held was bone and layers of actual skin.
As it turns out, the body was that of Elmer McCurdy, an outlaw who was shot by police 65 years before the “Laff in the Dark” opened its gates in 1976. McCurdy's body was left in a funeral home in Oklahoma, and when no one came to claim it, the funeral home director charged people a nickel to view the dead man. He preserved the corpse with embalming fluid.
Seeing the moneymaking scheme the funeral director has started, a carnival man came to the funeral home claiming to be a relative of McCurdy. He took McCurdy's body, traveled around the country and charged people for nearly 60 years to see the strange attraction. McCurdy's body eventually ended up in Long Beach, CA, and under the assumption McCurdy was just a prop, found its place in the "Laff in the Dark" ride.
Police were notified, and the body was identified as McCurdy. He is finally at rest in Summit View Cemetery in Guthrie, OK, with a thick layer of concrete over his casket to make sure he stays down there for good.
On July 4, 2016, shoppers outside a strip mall in Pembroke Pines, FL, saw what they thought was a burning mannequin outside of a store. A witness called authorities around 7 am claiming a mannequin was aflame on the sidewalk. When authorities arrived, however, they discovered something much different.
"When the fire department arrived, they realizezd that it wasn't a mannequin, that it was actually a human being who was deceased. They extinguished the fire and when police arrived, the initiated an investigation itno what may have occurred," Captain Al XIques with Pembroke Pines Police told CBS-Miami.
In October 2009, the body of 75-year-old Mostafa Mahmoud Zayed was left to decompose on his Marina del Rey, CA, balcony because everyone thought he was just another Halloween display. He sat slumped over in a chair on the third floor of his apartment building with a gunshot wound through one of his eyes. He was in plain view from four days until someone realized it wasn't a fake.
A cameraman at the scene of the crime said he wasn't surprised no one called police to report Zayed's death. "It did look unreal, to be honest," he said.
On April 2, 2014, Ronald Benjamin went outside for a cigarette outside of Peterborough Apartments where he worked as a desk clerk. He saw something on the patio that looked like a mannequin. Figuring it was a leftover prank from April Fool's Day, he went back to work. Two hours later, a resident of the senior home reported the weird object to Benjamin; he reassured her it was just a joke. When a 16-year-old paper boy came on his route, Benjamin recruited the boy to help him throw the mannequin in the dumpster. There was a substance that looked like blood on it, but again, he dismissed it as fake and part of the prank.
A few hours later, fellow employees of the apartment building discovered the object in question was not a mannequin, but the body of a 96-year-old resident who had jumped to her death from 16 stories above the night before.
"I'm telling you, I swear to God, the face looked like a rubber mask," Benjamin told The Tampa Bay Times. He genuinely had no idea he had chucked a body in a dumpster. "If I had thought for one instant it was a real person I would have called the police, my manager, everyone I could think of."