In an investigation of a human tissue harvesting operation, seven funeral home directors have pleaded guilty to criminal charges, agreeing to cooperate, and 14 more bodies have been found surgically plundered, say Brooklyn prosecutors quoted by the New York Times. The new accusations broaden the case to include mortuaries in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Rochester. The case has been publicized worldwide. Headlines styling the original defendants as “Body Snatchers” dominated New York tabloids for months. In December, more publicity was generated when it was disclosed that the body of the British journalist Alistair Cooke, who died at his home in Manhattan in 2004, had been surgically plundered.
“It is clear,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, “that many more funeral home directors were involved in this enterprise.” In February, the four original defendants were charged with operating a $4.6 million enterprise to fraudulently harvest human tissue from funeral homes for sale to processing companies. As technology has progressed, the market for human body parts has expanded to include bits of muscle, skin, and bone.