An employee at a company in Chicago that is responsible for distributing human body parts for medical research has reported a disturbing incident involving three severed heads. The worker, Dale Wheatley, serves as the transportation coordinator for the Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois. After expressing concerns about the condition of donor bodies, he found three disembodied heads placed next to his desk in what appeared to be an act of retaliation.
Wheatley filed a police report upon discovering the severed heads on a blue plastic storage tub by his desk. Initially confused, he questioned his boss about the unsettling discovery. His boss explained that the heads needed to be reunited with their respective bodies before being sent for cremation.
This incident came as a shock to Wheatley, as during his five-year tenure, body parts had never been placed near his workspace. Normally, such items were stored in designated areas until he retrieved them for delivery to medical schools, where they were used for dissection and study by students. Subsequently, the body parts were collected, cremated, and the ashes returned to the respective families.
Apart from the heads, Wheatley also found rolled-up bundles of smoldering sage throughout the office, which he interpreted as a form of harassment. Burning sage is believed in some cultures to ward off negative energy. Wheatley speculated that the sage burning was intended to signify warding off evil spirits, with him being the target of such symbolism.
The unsettling incident with the heads followed Wheatley’s complaint from the previous month regarding the improper embalming and storage of donor bodies, resulting in decay, mold, and degradation. Rats had even chewed through storage bags and bitten the cadavers’ feet, rendering them unusable or reducing the duration for which they could be studied.
One lab manager from a medical school contacted the anatomical association to report that some of the donors received were in such poor condition that they could not be utilized. The lab manager described bug infestations and decomposing tissue on the hands and feet of the bodies, told Chicago Tribune.
While William O’Connor, the executive vice president of the non-profit company, was not available for comment, he denied allegations of mistreatment of donor bodies and stated that handling body parts falls within Wheatley’s job description.
In response to these disturbing incidents, Wheatley lodged complaints with the Cook County Medical Examiner and the Illinois Department of Public Health, emphasizing the need for improved care for the bodies and work environment. According to his attorney, David Fish, Wheatley believes that the facility should be enhanced and the donors treated with greater respect.