Woman's body mistaken for mannequin in Sherbrooke, Que. fire and thrown in dumpster

Warning: This story contains details some people may find distressing.

Police in Sherbrooke are investigating a bizarre incident in which first responders appear to have thrown a woman’s burned body in a dumpster after mistaking it for a mannequin. 

According to Sherbrooke police chief Danny McConnell, the body was initially believed to be a silicone dummy that had caught fire on the edge of a wooded area near a Cabana St. factory on the morning of July 23. After discussions between police and firefighters, it was decided the best way to dispose of the mannequin was by putting it into a dumpster behind the police station that was not accessible to the public. 

Four hours later, a man reported the disappearance of his partner. Police tracked her cell phone and found her vehicle near the scene of the fire. The woman's description matched that of the supposed mannequin.

Police, noting the coincidence, decided at 6:30 p.m. to check the dumpster and discovered the mannequin was, in fact, a body.

The coroner’s office, Crown and independent bureau of investigators (BEI) are all looking into the situation. Police are investigating is as a suspicious death.

In a news conference Thursday afternoon McConnell offered his condolences to the woman’s family.

"We are obviously sorry for this incident and we assure you the family will be advised throughout this investigation," he said.

Sherbrooke fire chief Stephane Simoneau said many firefighters were shocked by the discovery and he is concerned about the psychological toll the situation may cause, adding that he is personally taking on the responsibility to determine what exactly occurred.

"We will shine a light on these events over the next few weeks," he said. 

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