Arthur Rathburn

Severed heads and body parts found among masses of dead flies in old warehouse: DA

On Friday, a federal agent testified in court that he and other FBI agents spent several days in 2013 using tools to separate chunks of organs, severed heads, legs, torsos, and other parts found in an old Detroit warehouse.

Mlive reports that FBI Agent Leslie Larsen testified that in some instances, body parts were stored in coolers, paint cans, drums, Tupperware, and refrigerator close to sandwich products. The suspect, Arthur Rathburn, is on trial for operating a business under fraudulent means with his now former wife, in which they reportedly purchased body parts of deceased people who had diseases such HIV, hepatitis, and Sepsis.

“Body parts were out in the open, in coolers,” Larsen testified, according to Reuters. “Some of the freezers had heads and torsos, some had arms and legs. Many were frozen together in flesh-on-flesh chunks.”

Rathburn, 64, is accused of buying the bodies “at a discount,” yet failing to disclose the diseases to customers, which included those who used body parts at science seminars, such as the American Society of Anesthesiologists seminar in Washington D.C. and the Biological Resource Center of Illinois.

According to court testimony, Larsen said the unsanitary warehouse had around 10 to 20 piles of dead flies and other insects, among frozen parts that took a crow bar and other tools to pry apart. Further, there was no running water in the warehouse and no restrooms, forcing the agents to bring in portable toilets.

Part of the testimony included a doctor who purchased body parts from Rathburn. An invoice stated that Rathburn bought one of the bodies for $5,000, but received a $3,500 credit because the body was diseased.  This was allegedly never disclosed to Dr. Kevin Vorenkamp, of the American Society of Anesthesiologists seminar. He testified that had he known the body was diseased, he would have never made the purchase.

Court documents indicate that Rathburn landed on the radar of authorities after he sent a severed head from Chicago from Tel Aviv in 2012, en route to a dental seminar. U.S. Customs intercepted the head, which was reportedly infected with Sepsis, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney John Neal.

Rathburn currently faces 13 federal charges. His  ex-wife, Elizabeth, pleaded guilty to wired fraud and is now working with authorities. She’s serving as a witness for the government against her former husband.

Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.

[Feature Photo: Pixabay]