Officials at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston (UTMB) are investigating the improper handling of at least 78 bodies donated to the Willed Body Program, which uses them for education and research. UTMB provides medical services to 80% of prisoners in Texas.
On January 24, 2002 the body of Liz McCaskill's husband was donated to the Willed Body Program, but it took her 3 months to get a death certificate, and even then the medical center couldn't account for her husband's remains. Finally, on June 28, 2002, UTMB officials informed Ms. McCaskill that her husband's body had been cremated, together with at least one other body, and the ashes probably mixed with the cremated remains of many others. "They gave me a box of ashes and they said part of him might be there, but there's 69 other people there with him," said Ms. McCaskill.
The FBI is investigating the possibility that the former supervisor of the Willed Body Program's anatomical services, Allen Tyler Jr., sold body parts from the donated corpses for his own profit. Possible links have been raised between Tyler, who was fired from the medical center on May 9, 2002, and Agostino Perna, owner of Mobile Medical Training unit, Inc. in New Jersey, where Tyler worked for several years while also employed at UTMB. John Lyon, president of California based Vista Medical Technologies, said he didn't know Tyler but that Perna had provided body parts to this company for surgical training. Moreover, a Missouri funeral home director, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Perna had provided body parts to an area hospital for surgical training sessions.
Officials at the medical center said they cannot be sure other remains have not been mixed until the UTMB and FBI investigations are complete. "This is an atrocity," said Ms. McCaskill. "Somebody needs to get, not a slap on the wrist, but a kick in the behind." To date it is unknown if any prisoner corpses have been mishandled.
Source: Houston Chronicle
As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.
Already a subscriber? Login