The movie Eight Heads in A Duffel Bag, starring Joe Pesci, comes to mind when hearing about the latest news from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Details of an investigation into the Biological Resource Center based in Phoenix, Arizona near 24th Street and University Drive have been released recently.
The FBI raided the facility back in 2014. At that time, they found a stockpile of random body parts including arms and legs, buckets of human heads and a cooler filled with severed penises, according to court documents.
The initial investigation resulted from allegations that the company was selling body parts for profit.
Special Agent Mark Cwynar, former FBI assistant, gave testimony regarding what he saw in the facility which sounded more like the set of a Hollywood horror movie than a body donor facility. He described piles of body parts with no method of identification to indicate where the parts came from. Court records also mentioned that FBI agents found a male torso with the head of a female sewn to the neck as if Dr. Frankenstein worked at the facility.
Reuters reports there were 1,755 body parts which included 281 heads, 241 shoulders, 337 legs and 97 spines totaling ten tons of human body parts.
After conducting the raid, authorities were tasked with hauling away the contents of the facility’s freezers. It took 142 body bags, one of which contained parts form thirty-six different individuals. It seems the search and seizure was so massive, professionals had difficulty undergoing the task.
Eight families, possibly more are suing the company and its owner. They say they donated their loved ones’ body parts under the impression they were conducting medical research only to be appalled at learning what the facility was really up to.
The Arizona Republic newspaper reports, thirty-three plaintiffs are suing the Biological Resource Center claiming their loved ones body parts were obtained under false pretenses, body parts were sold for profit and that they were not treated, stored and disposed of with any level of dignity and respect.
One FBI agent who worked with the Biological Resource Center, Matthew Parker, told Reuters that he got PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) from moving the body parts. He said, “I couldn’t sleep at night after seeing that”. One can only imagine.
It turns out, Arizona is a regulatory-free zone when it comes to the body parts industry. Currently, at least four body parts donation companies operate in the state as well as a non-profit cryonics company which freezes human bodies when they die in hopes that technological advances will allow them to one day bring them back to life. The TV show Liquid Science, hosted by GZA from Wu-Tang Clan, has an episode about this.
In 2017, in response to this particular case, the Arizona legislature passed a law requiring that body donation companies obtain licensing from the state, although this law has yet to be implemented nor enforced.
Gore, the former owner of the Biological Resource Center, pleaded guilty to charges of fraud for misleading customers by shipping them contaminated specimens. A judge sentenced him to one year of deferred jail time as well as four years probation. He is scheduled to appear in civil court this coming October to face families who have filed suit against him.