By M.P. Pellicer | Stranger Than Fiction Stories
Did a robber who broke into a truck parked in Denver's Central Park neighborhood realize they were making off with human remains?
In March, 2022, a medical truck used to transport body parts for medical research was considered not the usual mark for thieves. What was taken was a white carboard box measuring 20 x 15 x 18 inches marked with "Science Care" on the exterior which is the company that accepts bodies donated to science. There was another label “Exempt Human Specimen”. Inside the box were human heads.
The truck was bringing the specimens back to Science Care after a training event.
The freight company had left the truck parked in the 7700 Block of E. 23rd Avenue, Denver. A dolly was also taken.
Michael Burg, an attorney involved in cases related to human remains said, "Who has the heads, how did they get the heads, what was the purpose of getting the heads and obviously they refused to talk to you." He pointed out donation of human remains is mostly unregulated, and it is a multi-billion-dollar business. He suggested donations should be made to a university instead of a private company.
One could ask why would anyone steal human heads, but the answer is quite simple; they are worth lots of money. A head with a brain (cephalus) is priced at $500, with a spine the price goes up to $850 and a torso with a head and should is about $3,500. In 2021, it's estimated that a skull with teeth would sell for about $1,200.
Michael Burg said that body parts are brokered to companies across the country who are willing to pay for certain parts. "They sell the heads, arms, legs, hips, genitalia. We have discovered that many of these bodies are sold to the Department of Defense and are blown up like crash-test dummies."
More than likely whoever stole the box had a buyer waiting in the wings who was interested in this "merchandise."
This crime remains unsolved.
In April, 2023, a year after the heads were stolen, Candace Chapman Scott, 36, an ex-mortuary worked was charged with selling stolen body parts for thousands of dollars. She sold 20 boxes of human remains to a man she met on a Facebook group about "oddities". His name was Jeremy Pauley.
Scott worked at a funeral home, Arkansas Central Mortuary Services, where she transported, cremated and embalmed remains. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences would send cadavers that had been donated to the funeral home for disposal.
According to the indictment, for nine months, Scott sold Pauley, "fetuses, brains, hearts, lungs, genitalia, large pieces of skin and other body parts."
Pauley sent Scott a payment of $1,600 via Paypal for "2 brains, one with skullcap, 3 hearts one cut, 2 fake boobies, one large belly button piece of skin, [one] arm, one huge piece of skin, and one lung". She would receive $10,975 via PayPal in 16 different transactions.
Pennsylvania charged Pauley with a misdemeanor court of abuse of a corpse, a felony count of receiving stolen property, a misdemeanor count of receiving stolen property and a felony count of dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities. He posted bail and was released.
Pauley operates The Memento Mori museum and calls himself “the lead preservation specialist of retired medical specimens and curator to historic remains and artifacts.”
In September, 2023, he pled guilty in federal court to trafficking in human remains.
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