Arkansas woman pleads guilty to transporting stolen body parts across state lines

April 30, 2024

An Arkansas woman has pleaded guilty this week to transporting stolen body parts across state lines and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

From October 2021 to mid-July 2022, Candace Chapman Scott, 37, was employed at Arkansas Central Mortuary Services in Little Rock, where she had been allegedly stealing body parts from cadavers, including fetal remains, meant for a medical school in Pennsylvania, and selling them privately to a man she met on Facebook. Scott had several responsibilities at the Mortuary, including cremating and embalming bodies, as well as transporting them.

According to prosecutors, instead of cremating entire cadavers, Scott would keep certain parts to sell. Sickeningly, amongst the human remains sold were the bodies of stillborn babies.  

She is said to have sold 24 boxes of human remains over social media and profited almost $11,000 from doing so. Prosecutors believe the sales were part of a “nation-wide scheme” involving a ring of individuals dealing in the sale of illegally acquired human remains. Several others have been accused of and charged with their involvement in trafficking stolen human remains.

An indictment, which was unsealed last year, details Scott’s involvement with Jeremy Pauley, 42, of Thompson, Pennsylvania.

Pauley pleaded guilty last year for charges connected with human remains bought from the Arkansas mortuary and Harvard. The pair were said to have connected with one another through an oddities group on Facebook. Payments for the body parts were made in 10 separate payments from Pauley to Scott totalling $10,975.

Pauley was arrested in 2022. Initially, he told police that the human skulls he was in possession of, between 15 - 20 of them, had been legally purchased as part of his collection of oddities. Later searches of Pauley's home in Enola revealed that he had tissue and organs of human origin stored in buckets in his basement.

 

Jerry Pauley’s website, which is still online, details his mission statement:

“As the lead preservation specialist of retired medical specimens and curator to historic remains and artifacts, Jeremy has dedicated his career to both his museum, known as The Memento Mori, and to his efforts in the restorative and creative works of the Pauley Institute of Preservation.  

Through his work in the Institute of Preservation, Jeremy works to produce educational tools through reconditioning retired medical remains by means of plastination, corrosion casting, anatomical mounts, and all manners of preservation and restorative procedures. 

Jeremy’s work in The Memento Mori Museum is to foster a place where lost histories are regained and respectfully displayed. Having dedicated his career to educating and understanding both medical and cultural history, Jeremy unifies his work to provide the public with a foundation of education.”

 

Several other individuals involved in the case, both buyers and sellers, are said to have been scattered around the country, including areas such as New Hampshire, Minnesota, Massachusetts and elsewhere.

A husband-and-wife team involved in the scheme, Cedric and Denise Lodge, have also been named in the trafficking of stolen human remains. Cedric Lodge reportedly managed the morgue for the Anatomical Gifts program at Harvard University at the time. Shockingly, Cedric Lodge was allowing at least two buyers into the Harvard Medical School morgue to look at the bodies and select the parts they wanted to buy.

The details of what was specifically taken from the cadavers in order to be resold is not yet known, however, reports online imply skin and brains were just some of the organs illegally purchased from the morgue workers involved.

Families whose loved ones had been affected by the scheme were horrified by the discovery. In the summer of 2023, several families in Massachusetts filed a class action lawsuit against Harvard Medical School, whom they accused of carelessly leaving their loved ones’ bodies in the hands of individuals who allowed oddity buyers to choose body parts to chop off and take away as if they were nothing more than "trinkets at a flea market."

Around 20,000 people donate their bodies to science each year in the US. Individuals, and families of those individuals, donating their bodies to science expected their donation will benefit the future of medicine, as well as research and education.

Never did the families imagine that their loved ones would be cut up, bought and sold. 

The father of one victim, Glenn Wilder Sr., said that his son, who died of lung cancer, wanted his remains donated to the school's Anatomical Gift Program, and willed his body to science in the hope that he could "save someone else from the kind of suffering he was enduring." Glenn believed Harvard, with its sterling reputation, was the place to donate to. Never did he, nor his family, suspect that his remains would be treated as parts and pieces that would be stolen and sold over social media. Two years after Glenn's body was donated, his family received what they were told were his ashes.

In 2014, a similar case surrounding body donation was investigated at the Biological Resource Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Founder Stephen Gore had been accepting full body donations suggesting they would be used for science; however, the bodies had been sold to the Department of Defense for military and ballistics testing, with bodies often being used as Crash test dummies in explosions and vehicular crashes without the families’ knowledge or consent.

 

Candace Chapman Scott was initially indicted in April 2023, on several counts of wire fraud, mail fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property. Several additional accounts were dropped as part of a later plea agreement.

United States District Judge Brian S. Miller will sentence Scott at a later date.

 

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