Feds continue to build case in body parts investigation
4:40 PM, Dec 24, 2013
6:16 PM, Dec 24, 2013
(WXYZ) - Hundreds of families probably had no idea their loved ones' bodies were cut up, sold and even rented out of a shabby warehouse in Detroit.
Investigators continue to work on the case, looking into one Detroit business called International Biological, Inc.
Earlier this month, sources say the feds found a house of horrors inside the International Biological warehouse. We're told it was full of human body parts that belonged to an estimated 1,000 different people.
It took three days for federal agents to remove all of the parts.
The owner of the business, Art Rathburn, is not in custody and has not been charged with a crime. Rathburn has a Michigan Mortuary Science license, active since 1982.
Feds are trying to figure out if Rathburn was buying corpses out the back door of funeral homes, crematoriums and willed body donation programs.
There is high demand and a lucrative black market. Body parts are used in anatomy classes, practicing medical and dental procedures and in some cases, tissue transplants.
The bodies inside his Detroit warehouse, sources say, were kept on ice, not embalmed, to keep them fresh for the market.
When 7 Action News asked state licensing officials about an on-site inspection this week, they said the buying and selling of human remains is under the state health department.
But a spokesperson for that department says that is not the case. So, there is no indication the state ever inspected the warehouse.
Sources say Rathburn did business outside of Michigan and outside of the United States, shipping his body parts through airlines cargo out at Detroit Metro Airport.
We're told the feds will work well into the new year to develop their case.