The trial involving the Biological Resource Center and allegations that it illegally sold body parts is set to begin this week.
A trial is underway in a case involving the Biological Resource Center and a cooler filled with body parts that federal agents discovered back in January 2014. According to agents who made the grizzly discovery, a cooler at the Phoenix-based body donation business was filled with “male genitalia, buckets of heads, arms, and legs, and a woman’s head sewn onto a man’s torso.” Since the discovery, the Biological Resource Center has shut down, though a trial against the company and its owner, Stephen Gore, is set to begin this week.
During the FBI raid, agents recovered “10 tons of frozen human remains during the raid, including 281 heads, 337 legs, and 97 spines.” Shortly after news of the discovery broke, numerous family members “who had donated their loved ones’ bodies in the hopes of furthering medical research or assisting others sued Gore and his company in Maricopa County Superior Court.” According to the families, the “center lied to them about what the bodies of their loved ones’ would be used for.” The suit further states:
“The bodies were literally used as crash-test dummies, which meant they were used in experiments involving exposures to destructive forces, e.g. impacts, crashes, ballistic injuries, and blasts.”
One of the 33 plaintiffs, Jim Stauffer, said he donated his mother’s body to the center after she passed away in 2013. She had Alzheimer’s and Jim “hoped that it could help find a cure for the debilitating, incurable disease.” However, three years later Stauffer was contacted by reporters for Reuters who had been investigating the “trade of human cadavers and body parts.” It turned out the Biological Resource Center had “secretly sold Stauffer’s mother’s body to the U.S. military for thousands of dollars, which in turn used her body for blast-testing experiments.” Stauffer said:
“She was then supposedly strapped in a chair on some sort of apparatus, and a detonation took place underneath her. To basically kind of get an idea of what the human body goes through when a vehicle is hit by an IED.”
He added that when he donated his mother’s body to the company, he “checked a box on a form explicitly stating that he would not allow his mother’s body to be used for nonmedical purposes.”
Understandably the gruesome discovery of the bodies was alarming for the families involved. When commenting on the incident, Colorado lawyer Michael Burg said the “revelations in the case were emotionally devastating to family members of the deceased people, who often blamed themselves for falling for the center’s scam.” Burg is the lawyer representing the 33 plaintiffs. He added:
“The FBI told people … your person’s body parts have been sold across the country. They can’t stop thinking about how their loved one’s head is now in Florida. They were cut up like a piece of meat. It’s despicable.”
Since the raid, Gore pleaded guilty to “operating an illegal enterprise” and was sentenced to one year or prison time and four years of probation.