Five years ago, an Arizona woman by the name of Doris Stauffer, 73, died from symptoms of Alzheimer’s, despite tests having shown that she didn’t carry the genes for the neurodegenerative disease.
Disturbed by her fate and convinced that the disease may have somehow mutated, doctors expressed interest in studying her brain for answers. But for reasons that remain unclear, her neurologist was unable to accept her body.
And so in a bid to find some answers and also make a difference, Stauffer’s son, Jim Stauffer, agreed to donate her body to the Biological Resource Center in Maricopa County, Arizona.
“He trusted BRC to get her brain to neurologists who could hopefully learn more about the disease,” Phoenix station KNXV reported Tuesday. “Years later, though, Stauffer says he found out what really happened. His mom’s body was sold to the U.S. military.”
“I feel foolish,” Stauffer said to the station. “Because I’m not a trusting person, but in this situation you have no idea this is going on — you trust. I think that trust is what they fed on.”
He said that the center picked up his mother’s body within 45 minutes of her death and had him sign paperwork regarding what sort of so-called testing he would and wouldn’t allow.
“There was paperwork signed stating what was and what was not to happen with her body,” he said.
“Days later, he received a wooden box with his mother’s information and an ID number. Inside, he was told, was a majority of her ashes. Years went by before Stauffer learned what he was told, wasn’t the case,” KNXV notes.
Three years ago, Reuters began an extensive investigation into the activities of the BRC. It was via this investigation that the truth was finally revealed: The body of Stauffer’s mom was sold to the military and then literally blown up …
“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,” Stauffer said.
This despite him having made it clear on the forms he’d filled out that he didn’t approve of such actions: “There was actually wording on this paperwork about performing this stuff. Performing these medical tests that may involve explosions, and we said no. We checked the ‘no’ box on all that.”
According to Reuters, Stauffer’s mom isn’t the only one whose body has been abused. When federal investigators reportedly raided BRC in 2014, they found 10 tons of frozen human remains, including 281 heads, 241 shoulders, 337 legs and 97 spines.
“Applying a state forfeiture law, authorities hauled away the contents of BRC’s freezers, filling 142 body bags. One bag held parts from at least 36 different people,” Reuters revealed in a follow-up report in 2017.
“The seizure was so large that officials struggled to properly handle the body parts. When plans to cremate the remains stalled, officials brought three walk-in freezers to a military base and stacked the body bags inside, one atop another. Parts from 851 different people remained in those freezers for almost three years before they were cremated.”
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) December 27, 2017
It turns out that BRC wasn’t studying diseases; it was functioning like a literal chop shop and selling body parts like commodities — and all for profit.
Reuters notes that “brokers” like BRC “procure virtually all their cadavers for free from donors who believe the remains will be used for science. As a result, brokers can turn a profit of thousands of dollars on each body donated.”
“It’s about $2,500 to $3,000,” John Cover, the chief operating office at Research for Life — a legitimate body broker — said to the outlet.
“When bodies are subsequently dismembered and sold part by part, the profit margin can be even higher. BRC charged $5,893 for a whole body in 2013; a few years earlier, the company priced spines at $1,900, legs at $1,300 each, and torsos at $3,500, BRC documents show,” Reuters added.
While it’s unclear how much the center earned from selling Doris Stauffer’s body, it appears her son will be paying the ultimate price for years to come.
“I don’t see a pathway of ever getting past this,” he said. “Every time there’s a memory, every time there’s a photograph you look at, there’s this ugly thing that happened just right there staring right at you.”
There is a little bit of good news. BRC has gone out of business, and its founder, Stephen Gore, reportedly pleaded guilty to fraud. However, he only received probation as punishment.
Meanwhile, an ongoing lawsuit against BRC and Gore remains ongoing. Stauffer has joined the suit. The suit claims that body parts were being sold for profit to various middlemen, to include the U.S. military, and that the remains were not stored, treated or disposed of with dignity or respect.
“He didn’t care about the families, he didn’t care about the people and he didn’t care about the memories,” Stauffer said of Gore. “If I can be a little small part of his personal financial destruction, I don’t care.”
Learn more about BRC’s sick history below:
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