Arkansas Mortuary Worker Pleads Guilty to Selling Stolen Body Parts

May 02, 11:00 AM

In a disturbing breach of trust and legal boundaries, Candace Chapman Scott, a 37-year-old former mortuary worker from Arkansas, has pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the theft and sale of human body parts. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas made the announcement on Thursday, marking a significant development in a case that has shocked the medical and legal communities.

Scott was implicated in a scheme involving the transportation of body parts across state lines and conspiring to commit mail fraud. According to federal authorities, she was employed by a service provider contracted to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). This institution receives cadavers donated for medical research through its Anatomical Gift Program, which Scott exploited for her illicit activities.

The case unfolded when Scott, using a Facebook group for enthusiasts of "oddities," contacted a man from Pennsylvania on October 28, 2021. She introduced herself as a mortician associated with UAMS, revealing that her responsibilities included the cremation of medical cadavers. During their correspondence, Scott inquired if the man knew anyone interested in purchasing an embalmed human brain, setting the stage for a series of illegal transactions.

From October 31, 2021, to July 15, 2022, Scott sent 24 boxes filled with stolen body parts, including a human brain, heart, skullcap, kidneys, livers, hands, and a female pelvis with femurs, all of which she pilfered from UAMS. These parcels were transported via the U.S. Postal Service to her contact in Pennsylvania. In exchange, Scott received $10,625, transferred to her through PayPal.

The FBI intervened on July 13, 2022, with a search warrant executed at Scott's residence in Little Rock. Agents discovered numerous stolen body parts stored inappropriately in boxes and trash bags. Upon being questioned, Scott admitted her role in the transactions and her method of receiving payments.

As Scott awaits sentencing, the legal ramifications and the breach of ethical standards she perpetrated have ignited a discourse on the oversight of mortuary services and the protection of donated cadavers intended for scientific research. The trust placed in medical institutions by donors and their families has been severely undermined by this case, prompting calls for stricter regulations and oversight in the handling of anatomical gifts.

The implications of this case extend beyond the immediate legal consequences for Scott. It highlights critical vulnerabilities in the systems intended to honor and utilize the altruistic donations of bodies for medical science. As the community and the families affected by this breach seek justice, the case serves as a somber reminder of the need for vigilance and integrity in medical and mortuary practices.

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