A Colorado woman is facing smuggling charges after allegedly attempting to sell and ship human fetal remains in violation of US federal law. According to court records, she conducted much of her business over Facebook.
CONTENT WARNING: The following story contains medical and graphic details that some readers may find highly disturbing.
The alleged sale of human remains and other bizarre parcels by Emily Suzanne Cain was halted after customs officials intercepted a package in October of last year that was making its way from Canon City, Colorado, to the United Kingdom, court documents reviewed by Gizmodo state. That package, evidently labelled as containing “school teaching aids and t-shirts,” in fact contained multiple human fetal specimens, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Upon its arrival in San Francisco and ahead of being loaded onto a plane destined for London, Customs and Border Protection personnel noticed the package was missing a signature for a customs form certifying that the package contained neither dangerous nor illegal contents. They also noticed a discrepancy between the listed sender’s addresses on the customs form and the package itself, with P.O. box listed in Westminster and the other in Canon City.
CBP then x-rayed the package, at which time they observed contents that “appeared to be a human shape,” the complaint says. And as that contradicted the package’s contents description of shirts and teaching aids, officials conducted a further inspection of the shipment, at which time they discovered three glass containers that contained human fetuses. The package also included a handwritten note signed “Emily” about the “beautiful” contents of the package that apologised to the recipient for a delay in shipment and offering a complimentary shirt.
According to the complaint, the card was printed with a reference to McGinty Fine Oddities and as well as its “director and curator,” G. Howard McGinty. Gizmodo reached out through a contact form on a website matching the name and a skull logo referenced in the complaint, but we did not immediately return a request for comment. Additionally, prints found on the package matched both Cain and a Glenn McGinty.
Facebook messages obtained through a search warrant for the accounts of both Cain and McGinty turned up additional information related to the sale of fetal remains, according to the complaint. In messages from August 2018, court records say, Cain’s account sent another user pictures of four fetuses, three of which matched those seized in San Francisco. According to the complaint, Cain sold one foetus for $US500 ($733) to that same Facebook account, which later confirmed receipt.
Earlier that same month, Cain allegedly told one Facebook user that she had obtained “three fetal wet specimens and one fetal skeleton wet specimen from a university lab collection,” the complaint states, and attempted to sell all four for $US20,000 ($29,301), though the sale evidently fell through. A Facebook spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.
Investigators were later able to determine that the three fetuses collected by CBP last year originated from the anatomy department in the Department of Medical Education at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and were likely stillborns donated to the institution between 1920 and 1930. But the university is cited in the complaint as saying that any such remains that are no longer of use are not to be sold and are destroyed.
Cain pleaded not guilty to one count related to the illegal shipment of human fetal matter. A lawyer for Cain did not immediately return Gizmodo’s request for comment.