Grosse Pointe Park couple faces indictment in body parts dealing fraud case

Woman pleads guilty to wire fraud

Bodies in morgue (Getty Images)
Bodies in morgue (Getty Images)

DETROIT – A Grosse Pointe Park couple who ran a business renting out human body parts for medical and dental training is accused of defrauding customers by knowingly giving them parts from humans which died from infectious diseases.

Arthur Rathburn, 62, and Elizabeth Rathburn, 55, face a 13-count indictment after the FBI said they participated in a scheme to defraud their customers. The couple's company, International Biological, Inc. (IBI), rented out human body parts, such as heads and torsos, to customers who would use them for professional medical and dental training.

The Rathburns allegedly "knew the donors of a number of these bodies had died of an infectious disease, or that the bodies had tested positive for an infectious disease," according to the FBI.

"IBI sometimes obtained diseased remains from their suppliers at a reduced cost, due to the fact that end users of human remains generally reject infectious bodies and body parts for use in medical or dental training," a statement from the FBI reads.


"The indictment further alleges that Arthur Rathburn willfully caused to be delivered hazardous material regulated by the Department of Transportation, namely a human head of an individual known to have died from bacterial sepsis and aspiration pneumonia, to Delta Cargo, an air carrier, for transportation in air commerce in violation of federal regulations. In violation of these regulations, the human head was packaged in a trash bag placed within a camping cooler. Seven other human heads were also part of the shipment and packed in the same manner. Large quantities of liquid blood were found within the coolers. Furthermore, Arthur Rathburn was charged with making three false statements connected to this shipment," the FBI's statement reads.

The Rathburns face charges including wire fraud, transportation of hazardous material and false statements. If convicted, they could face up to 20 years in prison.

Elizabeth Rathburn pleads guilty

Elizabeth Rathburn admitted Monday to to providing human remains to a customer of IBI’s falsely representing to that customer that the remains were free of certain infectious diseases, when in fact she knew the remains had tested positive for Hepatitis B and HIV. She pleaded guilty to wire fraud. 

She is scheduled to be sentenced July 18. 

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