On January 22, 2014 the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, raided the Biological Resource Center. The raid followed reports that the company had mishandled human remains donated for scientific research.
The scene was so grisly that one Special Agent with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office (AGO) was later diagnosed with PTSD.
He was haunted by the sight of melting bodies, extensive dripping of body fluids, bags of severed heads that had frozen together into what he described as “frozen head popsicles.”
He compared the storage freezers where the bodies and body parts were kept for evidence, to what he imagined the “death pits of a Nazi concentration camps” might have looked like. He was ultimately forced to leave law enforcement altogether.
The gruesome case made headlines again last week, when the Arizona Republic reported that thirty-three plaintiffs are suing Stephen Gore, owner of the Biological Resource Center. That case is scheduled to go to trial in October.
Stephen Gore was sentenced in 2015 after pleading guilty to a charge of illegally conducting an enterprise.
According to the Arizona Republic, FBI Agent Mark Cwynar recently submitted sworn testimony about the 2014 crime scene inside the facility.
Cwynar testified that he observed “various unsettling scenes” including “unlabeled body parts” in a freezer and “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.”
“I observed many large male torsos with limbs and genitalia removed,” Cwynar stated. “I observed a cooler filled with male genitalia inside.”
Cwynar described finding a large torso with a head removed and replaced with “a smaller head sewn together in a ‘Frankenstein’ manner.”
The Biological Resource Center (BRC) first came to the attention of the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in another state while during a terrorism financing case. JTTF Arizona determined that BRC and its principals were not involved in terrorism financing, so the AGO took over as the lead investigative and prosecutorial agency.
According to sources, FBI hazardous materials (“hazmat”) team members assisted the AGO in execution of a search warrant at BRC. FBI hazmat team members had head-to-toe protective suits, but AGO special agents had latex gloves.
FBI lab personnel determined that some of the body parts were diseased and BRC represented that their body parts were NOT diseased, so Gore was charged with fraud.
AGO special agents took possession of the BRC body parts for evidentiary purposes, but the amount of body parts was overwhelming that the Arizona National Guard allowed the AGO to use its large freezers for storage.
AGO special agents worked with funeral homes and traumatized families of the decedents.
Those families will soon get their day in court. The 33 plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit said the company obtained their relatives’ bodies through “false statements,” and they were not treated with dignity or respect, according to AZ Central.
Those that worked the scene of the crime would agree.
“Having met people affected by this gruesome crime, I have seen the damage done. I wish the families the best of luck in their pursuit for justice,” said expert Aaron Ludwig, the former head of the Racketeering and Asset Forfeiture section of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. “Our RICO laws could have provided the families some measure of justice through compensation, however too many law enforcement agencies, like the Arizona Attorney General’s Office avoid using our seizure statutes when actual victims are involved. Instead, agencies seize assets primarily in cases where the proceeds of the seizure can be used for the benefit of the agencies themselves.”