Canadian police apologise for throwing away woman’s body after mistaking it for a mannequin

‘We will shine a light on these events over the next few weeks,’ fire chief says

Louise Hall
Friday 30 July 2021 20:22
Canadian police apologise for throwing away woman's body after mistaking it for a mannequin
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Authorities in Canada have apologised after they threw the burnt remains of a woman in a dumpster, apparently confusing it with a mannequin.

The heads of the police and fire departments in Sherbrooke, Quebec made the admission on Thursday in a press conference, local reports said.

Danny McConnell, the Sherbrooke police chief, said during the briefing that fire responders were alerted to a small fire close to a local factory.

“When they arrived, witnesses declared that someone had lit a silicone mannequin on fire,” Mr McConnell said, according to CBC.

Following a discussion, first responders reportedly made the decision to dispose of what they believed to be the mannequin in a dumpster at the Sherbrooke police service, which they said was inaccessible to the public.

However later the same day, a man is said to have reported his partner missing and police tracked the woman’s mobile phone to a vehicle near the fire.

Officers then made the connection between the missing person’s report and the earlier discovery and went back to the dumpster to retrieve the remains.

“We are obviously sorry about this situation and rest assured the family is being advised about every key detail of this investigation,” Mr McConnell said, according to reports.

He added: “Our hearts are with the family, her partner and the kids in this very tragic situation.”

Police reportedly said they are treating the unmanned woman’s death as “suspicious” but it is yet unclear how she died.

The coroner’s office and Quebec’s police watchdog, the Bureau of Investigators (BEI), is investigating the case, CTV reported.

“We will shine a light on these events over the next few weeks,” Stéphane Simoneau, the head of Sherbrooke’s fire department, said according to CBC.

Dr Robert Nicholson, an anatomical pathologist at the Granby Hospital in the Eastern Townships, explained to CBC how the incident could have occurred.

“So, a 150-pound person would be about 60 pounds,” he told the outlet. “If somebody is a burn victim and most of the water is gone, then there is nothing but the results of the burn.”

He said that by this point the body “doesn’t look like a normal person and it doesn’t feel like a normal person”.

Mr McConnell and Mr Simoneau did not take questions from reporters and expressed they were concerned for the psychological welfare of the first responders.

“I’m quite stunned by this news and I can say that my entire team, the entire department, as well as those who were there that day, are in shock,” Mr Simoneau said.

He added: “People were overcome by certain emotions, so we have to manage that situation in order to stabilise our teams, psychologically, and that’s what we’ve been doing.”