Arizona Frankenstein Factory: FBI raid at body donation center uncovers buckets of limbs, coolers of genitalia, and bodies sewn together
A 2014 FBI raid at an Arizona body-donation business that claimed to use them for scientific purposes uncovered a gruesome scene that involved buckets of limbs, a cooler of genitalia, and bodies sewn together 'like Frankenstein'
Following a nationwide criminal investigation into illegal trafficking and sale of human body parts, the FBI raided the Biological Resource Center in Phoenix in January 2014 and were horrified by their discovery, reported the Arizona Republic.
The details of their findings and the eyewitness account of an FBI agent involved in the raid were made public as part of a civil lawsuit against the business and its owner, Stephen Gore.
In a declaration contained in the civil lawsuit's court file, former Phoenix FBI special agent Mark Cwynar said he "personally observed various unsettling scenes" while inside the center.
He said he saw a "cooler filled with male genitalia" and a "large torso with the head removed and replaced with a smaller head sewn together in a 'Frankenstein manner.'"
He also testified that he saw large male torsos with limbs and genitalia removed; buckets and coolers with various body parts, including a bucket of heads, arms, and legs; body parts piled on top of each other throughout the facility, with no apparent identification; and steel freezers with frozen body parts inside with no apparent identification.
Thirty-three plaintiffs have been named in the lawsuit against the center, which, before it was shut down, would accept the bodies of people after they died and offering free pick up for the same.
The assumption was that the bodies were being given to a charity to help with disease research. Instead, the body parts were being sold for profit to various middlemen and were not stored, treated, or disposed of with dignity or respect.
A whole body with no shoulders or head went for $2,400, according to a 2013 price list that is part of the court file. A torso with a head was $2,400; a whole spine was $950, with other body parts going for anywhere between $375 to $1,100.
Gore pleaded guilty to conducting an illegal enterprise in October 2015 over accusations that he had provided vendors with contaminated human tissue and used body parts in ways that the donors had not permitted.
He was sentenced to one year of deferred jail time, four years probation and was ordered to pay $121,000 in restitution, and wrote in a letter to the judge that he felt overwhelmed working in an industry with "no formal regulations" to reference for guidance.
Indeed, the horrific practices taking place at the Biological Resource Center may have partly been influenced by the fact that Arizona does not have any regulation as far as the body parts industry is concerned.
But unlike the other four body donation companies in the state, the Biological Resource Center was not accredited by the American Association of Tissue Banks.
The plaintiffs' lawyers also uncovered that Gore's highest level of education was high school, and that he did not have any licenses or certifications applicable to body donation program operations.
The civil lawsuit is set to go to trial at the Maricopa County Superior Court on October 21.