Biological Resource Center: Body donors wonder what FBI investigation means for them

PHOENIX - Our newsroom has been flooded by calls from people asking about what's happened to the bodies of their loved ones who donated to Biological Resource Center.

Others who were planning to donate are wondering what they should do.

Federal agents spent a second straight day searching a Phoenix business. It appeared they were removing human bodies from the Biological Resource Center near 24th Street and University Drive.

Blanche and Dick Essegian of Phoenix just celebrated 50 years together and they take comfort knowing their end of life plans are taken care of.

"We have our wills made and different things and trusts and stuff like that. And then we talked about this," Blanche Essegian said.

Blanche said the Biological Resource Center held an informational meeting in their neighborhood last year.

She said the thought of donating their bodies to science was appealing.

"I was thinking most of medical schools that would have a use for parts of the body, or do an experiment on the body," she said.

She also thought this would save their family a lot of money, since they wouldn't have to pay for funeral expenses after they died.

After a few months and some research, they both signed up.

Blanche and Dick received copies of their contracts and wallet-sized cards from the company detailing where their bodies would go in case of an emergency.  

But now an investigation into the company by the FBI has left them questioning their decision.

"Well first off, what are they under investigation for? Are they just throwing the parts out, or are they selling them? " Blanche asked.

Blanche says she just needs answers to these questions to figure out what to do next.

"Is it a legit company? Are they doing anything illegal and is this contract still valid?" she asked.

A north Phoenix woman, who's asked only to be identified as Julie, says her husband lost his battle with cancer almost two weeks ago.

He couldn't donate his organs as hoped so his wife decided science and education would still fulfill his wishes.

She donated his body to Biological Resource Center and paid $120 for his death certificate and copies.

Now that the business has been shut down by the FBI, she's not sure when she'll get it.

Which means she can't start the process of collecting his pension or insurance to help keep up with the bills.

"It's coming up on the end of the month and I don't know if there's going to be any income at all coming in on his side, which his whole plan was that I would still be taken care of," Julie said.

Julie's husband was a Vietnam veteran and will get a full military burial, however she's now unsure when or if she'll get his cremated remains back, and if she does, she worries if the ashes will be his.

"I don't know when that's gonna happen," she said through tears. "We can't even plan for it."

ABC15 is still asking those questions for you, but details of the investigation have not been released yet.


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