Rathburn operated International Biological Inc.
Federal agents discovered four preserved fetuses in the Detroit warehouse of a man who sold human body parts, confidential photographs reviewed by Reuters show.
The fetuses were found during a December 2013 raid of businessman Arthur Rathburn´s warehouse. The fetuses, which appear to have been in their second trimester, were submerged in a liquid that included human brain tissue.
Rathburn, a former body broker, is accused of defrauding customers by sending them diseased body parts. He has pleaded not guilty and his trial is set for January.
How Rathburn acquired the fetuses and what he intended to do with them is unclear. Rathburn´s lawyers did not respond to requests for comment, and neither the indictment nor other documents made public in his case mention the fetuses.
The indictment states IBI would get the bodies and then dismember them to rent out for training. Both Arthur and Elizabeth knew the bodies died from infectious disease, and sometimes “obtained diseased remains from their suppliers at a reduced cost,” according to the documents.
The documents also show IBI would sell to its customers, “falsely representing to those customers that the remains were free from certain infectious diseases” because the customers would not accept some infected remains.
“The scheme included (1) directly profiting from infectious remains supplied to unwitting customers in violation of contractual agreements and (2) not disclosing to customers that IBI failed to take industry standard precautions to prevent potential cross-contamination between infections and non-infectious remains,” the indictment read.
IBI is accused of selling the body parts from January 2007 through December 2013.
The company also failed to take industry-standard precautions when it came to dismembering the body parts, according to the indictment.
Arthur “used a chainsaw, band saw, and reciprocating saw to dismember bodies without taking sanitary precautions,” and “stored human heads by stacking them directly on top of each other without any protective barrier.” WXYZ
U.S. Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
‘This needs to be reviewed,’ said U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee who recently chaired a special U.S. House committee on the use of fetal tissue.
Blackburn recoiled when a Reuters reporter showed her some of the photographs, taken by government officials involved in the raid.
In four of the photos, a crime scene investigator in a hazmat suit uses forceps to lift a different fetus from the brownish liquid. In three other photos, a marker that includes a government evidence identification number lies beside a fetus.
‘The actions depicted in these photos are an insult to human dignity,’ said U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
A Republican from Virginia, Goodlatte said that if individuals ‘violate federal laws and traffic in body parts of unborn children for monetary gain,’ they should be ‘held accountable.’ DailyMail
Legal and virtually unregulated
Reuters’ report noted that in the United States it is legal to buy and sell cadavers and other body parts except for organs used in transplants and certain fetal tissue. However, the multimillion dollar a year body parts industry operates with minimal regulation, which means that “in most states, including Michigan, public health authorities are not required to regularly inspect body broker facilities.”
For example, a reporter for Reuters was able to purchase two human heads and a cervical spine from Restore Life USA after sending just a couple of emails and paying “$900 plus shipping.” DailyWire