Company that supplied local veteran's body for morbid 'freak show' says it was deceived
BATON ROUGE - The East Baton Rouge Parish district attorney is in contact with his counterparts in Las Vegas and Portland, Oregon, to explore if any laws were broken when the body of a Baker man was dissected last month in front of a paying audience in a hotel ballroom halfway across the country.
At the same time, the company that provided the body of David Saunders to the company that hosted the “Oddities and Curiosities Expo” at a Portland Marriott said they will no longer work together.
Watch the full story on WBRZ at 10:00
“This story, when I saw it, just really hit me cold,” East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore said Friday morning during an appearance on WRKF radio.
“It’s immoral. It’s unethical. It is probably not illegal in Louisiana for the actions here,” Moore said. “I don’t know if there’s a law that covers it in the other two states, but I have reached out to both the DA’s. We’re speaking with them.”
David Saunders died Aug. 24 at a Zachary hospital. The 98-year-old World War II veteran wanted to donate his body to science, a family spokesman told WBRZ.
Instead, it wound up on a table in front of strangers at a “freak show” who paid hundreds of dollars to view the dissection.
Elsie Saunders, David Saunders’s widow, referred questions to her attorney.
“Words defy what happened,” said Harold Adkins, the attorney and Saunders’s nephew said. “It just stunned her (David Saunders’s widow) and the entire family. It’s abhorrent. It’s horrific. He wanted to donate his body for medical research, not to be used in a freak show.”
Obteen Nassiri, manager of Las Vegas-based Med Ed Labs, said this was the first and only time his company would work with Death Science, the company that hosted the dissection.
“Death Science … deceived us, repeatedly stating the donor they requested would be utilized solely for educational anatomical dissection instructing academic students, paramedics, and personnel within forensic pathology fields,” Med Ed Labs said in a statement. “We had absolutely no prior knowledge that any donor provided by our network of surgical facilities would be used as part of the ‘Oddities Expo’ and explicitly no knowledge that people would be paying to attend a show featuring one of our donors.”
Death Science, which hosted the event, disputed those claims in its own statement Friday.
“Med Ed Labs was aware of the course. Death Science partnered with Med Ed Labs and was in direct contact with Med Lab Ed, specifically, Obteen Nassiri, for multiple months leading up to the course including, but not limited to, the fact that the attendees are not exclusively medical students and ticket sales,” a statement from Death Science said.
As for Elsie Saunders, the family spokesman said her requests are simple.
“All she wants to do now is get it (the remains) back, do a proper burial, have a memorial service and then see what went wrong.”
Med Ed Labs has been in contact with the family and said it will pay to have the body sent to a funeral home of their choosing where it will be cremated.
The Oddities and Curiosities Expo plans to make a stop in New Orleans this coming January.