The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Modern-day resurrectionists strike... Alistair Cooke!

Evidently, the late broadcaster Alistair Cook's remains were harvested by, well, body snatchers:

When Cooke died of lung cancer that spread to his bones in March 2004, his body was taken to a funeral home in Manhattan. Two days later, relatives of the iconic broadcaster received his ashes, which were then scattered in New York's Central Park. Now they have been told that body snatchers allegedly surgically removed his bones and sold them for more than $7,000 (£4,000) to a company supplying parts for use in dental implants and various orthopaedic procedures.
And you thought this practice died in the days when the infamous Burke (of Burke & Hare) performed the hangmans's jig, eh? Wow... how gruesome is that? More on Alistair Cooke may be found on the BBC's homepage for Cooke's long-running radio program, Letter from America; more on some of the history of the resurrectionists may be found here. Update: courtesy of a link provided by Making Light, we find the NY Daily News' much more, uh, colorful commentary (wherein the word 'ghoul' finds (deserved) prominence), including some details about the body snatching operation:
Mastromarino ran Biomedical Tissue Services Ltd., a tremendously profitable tissue recovery business that sold body parts, including bone, skin and cardiac valves. After processing, Cooke's bones could have been used for dental implants or numerous orthopedic procedures including dowels for damaged spines. Cooke's remains were sold by Mastromarino to processing companies Regeneration Technologies Inc., of Alachua, Fla., and Tutogen Medical Inc., of Paterson, N.J. [...] [I]n paperwork given the two processing companies, Mastromarino allegedly changed Cooke's "cause of death" to heart attack and changed his age from 95 to 85, according to sources. Mastromarino, along with his former partner Joseph Nicelli, an embalmer, are being probed for allegedly forging hundreds of such records in their business, which ran from 2000 until October 2005, when The News first disclosed the details of the Brooklyn probe.
The News' past articles on these shady characters may be found here (paid archive); it includes such gems as these headlines:
  • Half-body snatched. Exhumed corpse has just pipe, not bones, below waist BROOKLYN DA'S GHOUL PROBERS MAKE A GRUESOME DISCOVERY
  • EASY PICKING IN CITY GRAVEYARD? Ghouls eyed in 'John Doe' grabs
  • Good stuff, wot?


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