KPHO-TV via Arizona’s Family
- Warning: This story contains graphic details.
- FBI agents found buckets of body parts, and a male body with a woman’s head sewn onto it among other gruesome discoveries during a 2014 raid of a body donation center in Phoenix, Arizona.
- The now-shut Biological Resource Center had been selling the body parts for profit, for as much as $2,900.
- The facility had received the bodies from family members by offering a free pickup of the bodies and free cremation.
- Relatives are suing the center, with some saying that they donated to the center thinking that they were contributing to scientific research.
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FBI agents found buckets of human body parts and torsos with the head from another body sewn onto it in a horrific raid carried out at a for-profit, body-donation center in Phoenix, Arizona, recently published court documents show.
The agents made the gruesome discovery at the Biological Resource Center in January 2014, but details of the raid were only revealed via an eyewitness testimony in a civil lawsuit against the center this month, the Arizona Republic and Arizona’s Family reported.
Mark Cwynar, an FBI special agent who gave the testimony, recalled seeing "various unsettling scenes" during the raid, according to the Arizona Republic. He also described some of his discoveries as a "morbid joke."
Here’s what he saw, according to the Arizona Republic and Arizona’s Family’s reporting from court documents:
- A bucket of human heads, arms, and legs.
- A cooler filled with male genitalia.
- A small woman’s head sewn onto a larger male torso, "like Frankenstein." The torso was hanging on the wall.
- "Infected heads." It’s not entirely clear what this means.
- Bodies cut up with chainsaws and bandsaws.
- Pools of human blood and other bodily fluids on the freezer floor.
Why the facility stored the body parts, and why it treated them as such, is not clear.
KPHO-TV via Arizona’s Family
The FBI raided the center after allegations that that it was selling the body parts, which had been donated, for profit, ABC 15 Arizona reported. None of the bodies had ID tags, Arizona’s Family reported.
Court documents, cited by the Arizona Republic, also showed that the facility sold various body parts for sales. The most expensive item, a "whole body" with no shoulders or head cost $2,900, while a human foot was $450. It is not clear who the body parts were sold to.
The Biological Resource Center shut in 2014 after the raid, but lawsuits from victims’ families are ongoing.
Thirty-three plaintiffs are suing the facility, with some saying they had given away their loved ones’ remains under the belief that they were donating them for scientific research, the Arizona Republic reported.
The relatives also say the bodies were not stored, treated, or disposed of with dignity or respect, the Arizona Republic said.
Their case goes to trial on October 21, the newspaper added.
CBS 15 via Arizona Attorney General/YouTube
The facility had accepted the bodies of dead people from their families in exchange for free pickup of the bodies and, later, the cremated remains of body parts the company did not sell, according to the Arizona Republic.
Troy Harp, who donated his mother and grandmother’s bodies to the center in 2012 and 2013, told Arizona’s Family that he received what he was told were his mother’s ashes shortly after the 2014 FBI raid, but he wasn’t sure they were her ashes.
Stephen Gore, the Biological Resource Center’s owner, pleaded guilty in 2015 to illegal control of an enterprise, and was sentenced to one year deferred prison time and four years probation.
Gore said in 2015: "I could have been more open about the process of donation on the brochure we put in public view."
"When deciding which donors could be eligible to donate, I should have hired a medical director rather than relying on medical knowledge from books or the internet," he added.
He is representing himself in the latest civil suit, the Arizona Republic reported, citing court filings. The newspaper added that it had not been able to contact Gore.
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