Body Of Arizona Woman Was Donated To Alzheimer’s Research — And Was Used In Bomb Testing

Published July 31, 2019

When Jim Stauffer donated his mother's body to the Biological Resource Center in Arizona, he thought her remains would contribute to scientific research. Instead, her corpse was strapped to a chair and subjected to IED testing.

Police Tape At Brc

ABC 15 ArizonaA 2014 FBI raid of the Biological Resource Center ended in the organization’s forced closure after body parts were found strewn about and illegal for-profit practices were discovered.

Doris Stauffer died in 2014 at the age of 73. The Arizona woman spent her last few years struggling with Alzheimer’s disease and as such, her son decided he would donate her brain to research once she passed.

But according to Fox News, her body was instead sold to the United States military where it was used in bomb 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,” Stauffer’s son, Jim Stauffer, said.

Doris Stauffer Birthday Photo

ABC15 ArizonaDoris Stauffer died in 2014 at the age of 73. Her son had hoped that perhaps in death she could’ve helped others suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Before his mother died, Jim Stauffer agreed with doctors that her brain could be of service after her death. When the neurologist rejected the body after she died, however, Stauffer sought out a variety of other donation services and consequently found the Biological Resource Center (BRC).

BRC employees arrived within 45 minutes of Doris Stauffer’s death which seemed to be a Godsend for her son who was desperate to make his mother’s death mean something. He signed BRC-required paperwork and explicitly rejected their request for using her corpse in explosive experiments.

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

An ABC15 Arizona segment on Jim Stauffer and his tragic discovery.

When he was sent a box with what supposedly contained the majority of his mother’s ashes, minimal information, and an ID number, Stauffer was not informed of just how her body had been put to use at the BRC. It wasn’t until 2016 that Stauffer was informed by Reuters as to what the BRC actually did with his mother’s body.

Doris Stauffer had been one of at least 20 other bodies which had been donated to BRC and sold off to a military contractor for army experiments without their family’s consent.

Her corpse had been saddled onto a chair before being blown up. Each body was priced at an estimated $5,893.

The Pentagon claimed that the BRC had been dishonest with Army contractors about the body parts it had sold them. The Pentagon added that they had engaged with this business under false pretenses and that the military believed that the BRC was given explicit consent by family members to use these bodies in explosives tests.

Former FBI Assistant Special Agent Mark Cwynar testified in court that during a 2014 search of BRC they not only found evidence that the organization was illegally selling the bodies for profit, but that they also were keeping buckets of heads, arms, and legs scattered about the facility.

Agents even encountered a cooler filled with male genitalia.

Doris Stauffer Family Portrait

ABC15 ArizonaJim Stauffer explained that every time he sees a photo of his late mother, he can’t help but think of her being used for military bomb testing.

None of these body parts had any tags or identifiers to distinguish them. In his court testimony, Agent Cwynar described seeing a torso “with the head removed and replaced with a similar head sewn together in a Frankenstein manner.”

The BRC was officially shuttered in 2014.

Jim Stauffer was stunned to discover just how callous for-profit donation entities like BRC really were.

“I feel foolish,” he said. “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.”

BRC owner Stephen Gore and his business were already entrenched in the civil lawsuit against them when Stauffer joined the cause.

The suit claims that Gore and his facility preyed on low-income families, particularly uneducated ones in the midst of mourning, who were thus more vulnerable to BRC’s schemes.

Biologica Resource Center Raid

ABC15 ArizonaThe FBI discovered bodies were being sold off for around $5,893. They also found a cooler in the facility that was filled with male genitalia.

Gore pleaded guilty in 2015 to defrauding customers. He confirmed that his business sold contaminated body parts to paying institutions and will appear in court this October to face the distraught relatives of those he sold.

Stauffer says BRC took “a lot more than my mom’s body” away from him. Though Gore is currently serving probation and will surely face strenuous legal consequences for his unscrupulous business model in October, the damage for Stauffer has already been done.

“Because every time, you know, you think about her, every time there’s a memory, every time there’s a photograph you look at, there’s this ugly thing that happened,” he said. “Just right there staring right out.”

After learning about this Arizona man’s dead mother sold off for explosives testing by the U.S. military, watch and learn how a human body decomposes. Then, learn about the surgeon who discovered that kidney stones fly out of people on roller coasters.

Marco Margaritoff
A former staff writer for All That’s Interesting, Marco Margaritoff holds dual Bachelor's degrees from Pace University and a Master's in journalism from New York University. He has published work at People, VICE, Complex, and serves as a staff reporter at HuffPost.
Leah Silverman
A former associate editor for All That's Interesting, Leah Silverman holds a Master's in Fine Arts from Columbia University's Creative Writing Program and her work has appeared in Catapult, Town & Country, Women's Health, and Publishers Weekly.
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Margaritoff, Marco. "Body Of Arizona Woman Was Donated To Alzheimer’s Research — And Was Used In Bomb Testing.", July 31, 2019, Accessed May 23, 2024.