Every autumn for about 25 years, wherever she lived, LaRethia Haddon has heeded a Halloween tradition sure to attract double-takes: a realistic-looking “body” in her yard.
This year, the counterfeit corpse has spooked folks even more than usual. Even the cops are ... investigating Haddon’s dead ringer.
Earlier in the week, officers were repeatedly called to the area after receiving reports of a man down, but they determined, as in the previous days, that it was merely the dummy, said Detroit Police Officer Shanelle Williams.
“We received one call each about the dummy on the sixth, seventh and eighth,” Officer Jennifer Moreno said. “But as of Friday, the only call we received to Mendota was to check on the welfare of a 99-year-old woman.”
Haddon’s dummy kept first responders busy in Redford Township, where she previously resided.
“I used to live in Redford Township, and oh God — the police department, fire department, they would come out every day,” Haddon said Thursday night. “Everywhere I’ve ever lived, it’s always been this way. But this year, for some reason, it’s getting a lot of attention.”
Haddon said she puts the dummy, face down, in a different location in her yard every morning and watches the reactions from passers-by — students, UPS drivers, even DTE workers — as she sips coffee in her living room.
“The corner is always full of cars,” Haddon said. “People running up trying to do CPR. Once they find out it’s a dummy, it’s so hilarious.”
Her son, Kendrick Hardaway, said he’s accustomed to the commotion.
“It puts a smile on a lot people’s faces,” he said. “People get a kick out it.”
While the dummy is not illegal, Officer Williams said police would appreciate if it was more obvious that it’s fake.
“It would be great if they could put something along the lines of it being a display to alert to the citizens in the community so it doesn’t arise unnecessary concern,” Williams said. “If we get a call, we are still responding. We can’t take the chance.”
The annual tradition dates to Haddon’s husband, whose birthday is on Halloween.
“We’re just really into it. And the kids get a kick out of it in the neighborhood and my grandchildren, also,” she said. “It’s something that we always do.”
Haddon said she doesn’t mean to offend anyone.
“I’m trying to bring laughter to Detroit,” she said. “We really need it.”
Others love the mock corpse — so much that Haddon no longer leaves it out at night because the “body” vanished the last two years.
“If you don’t bring him in at night, he won’t be there in the morning. I learned my lesson,” she said. “That’s terrible I have to bring him in at night. But on Halloween, he stays out all night. I just keep my door open until we go to bed.”