Dismembered limbs sewn together like 'Frankenstein' at body-parts donation center, FBI found

A former Phoenix FBI agent said that when he raided the Biological Resource Center Inc., he "observed several unsettling scenes."

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By Elisha Fieldstadt

When the FBI raided a now-defunct Arizona body donation company, they found a gruesome scene, including remains from different bodies sewn together in a "Frankenstein" manner, and buckets full of limbs, a former agent testified.

Biological Resource Center Inc., its owners, employees and other companies, including a funeral home and health care providers, are being sued by family members of dead people who had opted to donate their bodies "solely for medical and scientific purposes."

Authorities instead found that bodies at the center were "mishandled, abused, desecrated and sold for profit," according to the suit.

Mark Cwynar, a former Phoenix FBI assistant special agent, recently testified for the civil suit that when the FBI raided Biological Resource Center Inc. in 2014, he "observed several unsettling scenes."

"I observed a large torso with the head removed and replaced with a smaller head sewn together in a 'Frankenstein' manner," Cwynar wrote.

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"I observed body parts piled on top of each other throughout the facility with no apparent identification to indicate what bodies they came from or to whom they belonged," he said.

He said "buckets and coolers with various body parts, including a bucket of heads, arms and legs" were also absent of identification, as were body parts strewn in freezers.

Male torsos he saw were without limbs and genitalia, he wrote. A cooler he saw was filled with male genitalia, he added.

Family members of the victims said they were told "the donations, if accepted, would be used solely for medical and/or scientific research ... that donor bodies would be treated with dignity and respect; and that donor bodies would not be dismembered and/or sold for profit," according to the civil suit filed in 2015.

They were also told that the unused remains of their family members' bodies would be cremated and returned to them, and many did receive boxes that they were told were their loved one's ashes.

Instead, the bodies were dismembered, "commingled" and disposed of improperly, according to the suit. Some were illegally sold for profit, sometimes overseas.

More than 30 family members are part of the civil suit filed in Maricopa County, Arizona, that seeks punitive and compensatory damages for "severe, permanent and extreme emotional and mental suffering and grief, as well as resulting in physical illnesses."

"The defendants’ acts were so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and are regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community," the suit said. "Defendants either intended to cause plaintiffs emotional distress or recklessly disregarded the near certainty that such distress resulted from their conduct."

Stephen Gore, the owner of Biological Resource Center Inc., pleaded guilty in 2015 to illegally conducting an enterprise, and was sentenced to 12 months deferred jail time and four years of probation.

Authorities said he and other defendants had been mistreating and illegally selling donated bodies since at least 2007.