The Human Body Brokers of the Biological Resource Center

True Crime Lists T

A centre where human bodies were donated for science, was discovered to be a human chop-shop where body parts were sold for profit across the United States, all run by a man named Gore. A true crime story not for the faint-hearted!

This and NINETEEN other true crime stories and mysteries can be found in Bizarre True Crime Volume 7, available from Amazon.


When Arizonian-born Jim Stauffer donated the body of his recently dead mum, Doris, to the Biological Resource Center (BRC) in Arizona, he hoped that the donation would help progress biological understanding and science.

There was nothing to suspect otherwise, the BRC was a legitimate science resource institute. The benefit of donating a body to the centre was that they arranged collection of the body and delivered the ashes to the family once science experiments had been carried out.

Doris, 75, had suffered from Alzheimer’s towards the end of her life, and Jim’s decision to donate her body to the BRC was in the hope that it could help advance the progress for a cure to the disease. Jim made sure to tick the box stating that he would not allow his mother’s body to be used for non-medical purposes.

A week-and-a-half after the body had been collected, the BRC sent back his mother’s ashes, and for many months, Jim had no reason to suspect anything untoward had taken place. Until the FBI, after a long investigation, raided the BRC and discovered that bodies were being dissected and sold as parts all over the country – against the wishes of the donors.

But this wasn’t a 19th Century Victorian black-market morgue, or a Burke and Hare style graverobbing enterprise, this was 2014 Arizona. The investigation led to the discovery of a large underground industry of body brokers.

House of 1,000 corpses

For many years the FBI had been investigating various for-profit body donation businesses around the country, with four of them in Arizona alone. A Detroit-based body broker was caught crossing the border into Canada with a bucket full of severed heads, later traced back to the BRC.

Insiders were reporting that the donated bodies were not being used for scientific purposes and were being chopped up and sold as parts to the military and medical industries, along with some on the black market.

In January 2014, with enough evidence to back them up, the FBI launched an early-morning raid on the Biological Resource Center of Arizona, which also contained a cryogenics division for freezing bodies in the hopes of resurrecting them one day.

What they found inside was nothing less than disturbing. It was described by one agent as a butcher’s shop with various unsettling scenes laid out in front of them. They found a cooler-box full of penises, and various body parts piled on top of one another throughout the building.

One of the more disturbing finds was the body of a large man with the head removed, and a woman’s head sewed on in its place, in what could only have been described as a Frankenstein creation. They also found various heads in a freezer with no tags or identification of any kind.

The owner of the business was the appropriately named Doctor Stephen Gore, who was arrested at the scene, and was charged with deception, the black market selling of body parts, and operating an illegal business.

Some of the prices discovered by the FBI included $3,000 for a torso with no shoulders or head, a whole spine for $950, one whole leg for $1,100, a foot for $450, and a knee for $375.

Original site of the BRC.

Military tests

When the FBI looked closer at the records they discovered where certain parts had been sent to. A deceased man named Conrad Patrick had his body parts sent all over the country, despite his family stating that the body was only to be used in research by the BRC.

His left foot was sent to a Chicago orthopaedic laboratory, his right foot and knee were kept in the BRC freezers, organs sent to an Arizona University, left shoulder to a Las Vegas seminar company, and his head and spine sent to the U.S. Army for military testing.

When Jim discovered what had happened to his mother, he was left feeling sick, and ended up becoming one of the plaintiffs against the BRC. Doris’ body had been sold to the U.S. military for thousands of dollars, to be used in bomb tests.

Doris was strapped to a chair on top of an explosive device which was detonated. The test was to discover exactly what happened to the human body when it was hit with a large explosive device. The ashes that were sent back to Jim, were from his mother’s hands, which had been separated from her body before being shipped off to the military.

In total, the FBI discovered 281 heads, 337 legs, and 97 spines, mostly from donors who had ticked the box against non-medical use. Jim joined 20 other families who became plaintiffs in the case against Gore and the BRC.

Body brokers

In October 2015, Gore pleaded guilty to operating an illegal enterprise and was sentenced to four years of probation and ordered to pay $58million (USD) to 10 of the families. Unsurprisingly the Biological Resource Center was closed down shortly after.

The explanation of the woman’s head sewn onto a man’s body? The BRC stitched body parts together to form an entire body which would be cremated instead of a small part. Meaning the grieving families would get a full-body’s worth of ash.

The FBI’s investigation not only uncovered the deception of Gore and the BRC, but they also exposed a nationwide black-market industry where tens of thousands of body parts were being sold for profit each week. Most to be used for unorthodox scientific or military use.

The notion of body donation is common all over the world, from carrying an organ donor card, to giving blood. The idea is that body parts will go to help with genuine scientific research, biological advancement, and to help other people live.

What we don’t expect is for those body parts to be sold for profit to the highest bidder, strapped to a chair and then blown up by the military. The investigation even branched out to funeral homes who were defrauding grieving families by selling bodies or parts of bodies to places like the BRC for profit, who in turn made a profit themselves.

The underground industry of body brokers remains as common as ever. Due to the military’s involvement in the orders of body parts, and various state-funded universities around the country, no real law has been passed to stop it.

In 2017, Arizona passed a law requiring body brokers to hold a body-donation license. The law was never implemented and body brokers are free to work unlicensed throughout the state. 

It’s not illegal to sell body parts for research, but it is illegal to sell infected body parts, and to purposefully deceive families about how the bodies of their loved ones are being used.

Body donation for-profit businesses remain active across the United States, and with many people unable to pay for funeral costs, the lure of donating a body for ‘science’ remains an option that many will continue to take.

This and NINETEEN other true crime stories and mysteries can be found in Bizarre True Crime Volume 7, available from Amazon.

Help share the article

Leave a comment
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. There's a lot more the Italian authorities are not releasing over this case. Makes you wonder the extent of the…