FBI searching area on Detroit's east side for bone fragments and other human remains

DETROIT (WXYZ) - The FBI is continuing to search an area on Detroit's east side looking for bone fragments and other human remains.

However, the FBI says records and search warrants on this case are sealed and they are not commenting.

Chopper 7 was over the scene where it was clear the FBI was investigating.

The site being investigated is located at an old industrial area on Detroit's east side. 

The crews are working in HAZMAT suits with masks and working in heated tents.

The HAZMAT suits would be because they are dealing with human remains which are considered biohazards.

This site is a company called International Biological and it is owned by a Grosse Pointe Park man by the name of Arthur Rathburn. The 7 Action News team has also established Rathburn worked fro the University of Michigan from 1984 to 1990 in the anatomy department. 

His home was also searched yesterday by the FBI.

Authorities are not confirming, but the center of the investigation could involve the trade of human body parts. The business advertised in the past as a medical educational service provider. 

Anything found here will have to be tested. A neighbor says he lived in Grosse Pointe Park for many years. He is older in his 50s or 60s and married with at least one grown son.

Rathburn has not returned our calls. He is not in custody and has not been charged with any crime.

We are also continuing to see where he did business and with whom. With lab testing, this case could take a while to develop,

The selling of body parts is big business. Bones, ligaments, tissue and other body parts can be harvested after we die.  When it is, people are in the business of selling the remains, both legally and illegally.

Scott Carney is an investigative reporter and author who has looked into the world of harvesting body parts for his book, "The Red Market". 

"The human body can be cut up in lots and lots of ways.  It's not just for fresh organs," said Carney.  "Ligaments are valuable, bones are valuable, corneas are valuable."

The buying and selling of human body parts has become a billion dollar business across the globe.  Due to patient rights and privacy laws, where the body parts are coming from isn't easily tracked. 

"The identity where it came from is always stripped," said Carney. 

 

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