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Valley man learns mom's body was sold for 'blast testing'

Posted: 5:09 AM, Jul 30, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-31 14:40:27-04

PHOENIX — It's been more than five years since Jim Stauffer's mother died in hospice care.

Seventy-three-year-old Doris Stauffer suffered from Alzheimer's disease during the last years of her life, but doctors says she didn't have the gene for it. Doctors worried the disease may have mutated, and hoped to study her brain after her passing to find out more.

When the time came though, her neurologist couldn't accept the body. Her son hoped reaching out to other donation facilities could lead to the same result.

"I feel foolish," said Jim Stauffer. "Because I’m not a trusting person, but in this situation you have no idea this is going on -- you trust. I think that trust is what they fed on.”

Biological Resource Center came to pick up his mother's body within 45 minutes of her death.

“There was paperwork signed stating what was and what was not to happen with her body," added Stauffer.

Days later, he received a wooden box with his mother's information and an ID number. Inside, he was told, was a majority of her ashes. Years went by before Stauffer learned what he was told, wasn't the case.

Stauffer says a reporter from Reuters contacted him with documents showing a paper trail of where his mom's body really went.

RELATED: Human 'chop shop' insider says body donation business remains highly unregulated

According to Reuters, Stauffer's mom was one of many bodies sold to the US Army for blast testing.

“She was then supposedly strapped in a chair on some sort of apparatus, and a detonation took place underneath her to basically kind of get an idea of what the human body goes through when a vehicle is hit by an IED.”

“There was actually wording on this paperwork about performing this stuff," he added. "Performing these medical tests that may involve explosions, and we said no. We checked the 'no' box on all that.”

Several years later, Stauffer still struggles with the idea.

"I don't see a pathway of ever getting past this," he said. “ Every time there’s a memory, every time there’s a photograph you look at, there’s this ugly thing that happened just right there staring right at you.”

Stauffer is one of many plaintiffs named in the suit against Biologic Resource Center and its owner Stephen Gore. Gore pleaded guilty to running an illegal enterprise in 2015, but was sentenced to serve probation.

"He didn’t care about the families, he didn’t care about the people and he didn’t care about the memories," Stauffer added. "If I can be a little small part of his personal financial destruction, I don’t care.”