Jim Stauffer thought he was benefiting Alzheimer's research when he donated his mother's body to Biological Resource Center five years ago. As Doris Stauffer, 73, had suffered from Alzheimer's but was without the gene linked to the disease, her son thought a brain study could be useful. But there was no brain study. Doris' body, picked up within 45 minutes of her death, was sent to the US military. "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," Stauffer tells KNXV. The military says it purchased several bodies from BRC, believing relatives had approved of such tests, per Reuters. But Stauffer was blindsided. He says his paperwork stated the body shouldn't be involved in explosions.
"I don't see a pathway of ever getting past this," says Stauffer, one of 35 relatives of people whose bodies were sent to BRC who are now suing officials involved with the company, including former owner Stephen Gore. Gore pleaded guilty to running an illegal enterprise and was sentenced to four years of probation after FBI agents raided BRC's Arizona facility in January 2014, finding "buckets full of body parts," per CNN. BRC would "mutilate and desecrate those bodies so they could sell the bodies and body parts for profit to enrich themselves," reads the lawsuit. "These bodies were literally used as crash test dummies." Relatives were later sent ashes, but "we don't even know who we have in our boxes," one man tells CNN. "I feel foolish," Stauffer adds, per KNXV. "I'm not a trusting person, but in this situation you have no idea this is going on—you trust." (More on the case here.)