Over the past few years, there has been a conspiracy theory circulating about the illegal trade of body parts. Noted Civil Rights activist and entertainer Dick Gregory has spoken at length on this subject and how the Black community is a victim of the trade. Now, further proof is coming forward that is beginning to lay credence to the claims by Gregory and other activists. Elizabeth Rathburn of Grosse Pointe, Michigan has pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in a US District court as part of an ongoing investigation and criminal case. Rathburn and her husband Arthur Rathburn operated International Biological Inc., known as IBI, and are being accused of selling and renting human remains that were infected with HIV, hepatitis and other diseases to unsuspecting medical and dental customers for research and training.
These remains included the heads and torsos of deceased individuals, as well as entire corpses. According to the criminal complaint, the Rathburns would sell whole bodies on the black market for $5K, heads for $500 and arms for $750. Arthur Rathburn would use chainsaws and other cutting tools to dismember the bodies. Rathburn took no care with the body parts and a freezer was found stuffed full of heads with no separating packaging. A thirteen count indictment against the Rathburns was issued in January 2016 when the Rathburns shipped eight un-embalmed human heads in trash bags and camping coolers aboard a Delta Cargo flight. One of the heads was that of a person Arthur Rathburn knew died of an infectious disease. The indictment includes disturbing details of how blood leaked from the heads and left large amounts in the coolers. Rathburn later claimed that the heads were embalmed and the red fluid was not blood but mouthwash.
The Rathburn case is part of a federal investigation of a black market body parts network that includes Michigan, Illinois and Arizona.