Little Rock woman charged in sale of parts from medical cadavers that were meant to be cremated

A Pennsylvania police car is shown in this undated file photo. (AP/Matt Rourke)
A Pennsylvania police car is shown in this undated file photo. (AP/Matt Rourke)

A Pulaski County woman arrested Friday morning was arraigned in federal court Friday afternoon on charges related to selling of body parts that were destined for a crematorium where she worked.

Candace Chapman Scott, 36, of Little Rock, is facing numerous charges related to allegations she was selling the body parts to a Pennsylvania man she met through a Facebook group concerning "oddities." At her arraignment before Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Thomas Ray, the judge outlined the charges against her listed in an indictment handed up April 5 and sealed until Friday morning and ordered her detained in federal custody until a bond hearing can be scheduled.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Jegley, who is prosecuting the case, told Ray the government is seeking Scott's detention until the case is resolved. Jegley said because Scott is facing significant prison time should she be convicted -- 20 years on each of 10 counts as well as five and 10 years on each of two additional counts -- she should be considered a flight risk.

"There are substantial penalties in this case," Jegley said. "This case is not a typical financial crimes case and I think that the facts ... underlying the indictment and in the indictment are uniquely egregious and objectionable and we believe there is going to be some significant public outcry as a result of this. ... We believe there's a substantial likelihood based on the weight of the evidence in this case and the nature of the charges that she's going to face a significant term of imprisonment."

Scott is facing 12 criminal counts: one count each of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud; four counts each of mail fraud and wire fraud; and one count each of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property and interstate transportation of stolen property.

According to the 15-page indictment, between October 2021 and July 2022, Scott is accused of selling body parts in numerous transactions to a Pennsylvania man, identified in a separate but related Pennsylvania case as Jeremy Lee Pauley, 40, of East Pennsboro Township, Pa. Pauley was arrested Aug. 18, 2022, by East Pennsboro Township police, according to a news release from the Cumberland County, Pa., district attorney's office, after police there began receiving complaints.

In the indictment, Pauley is referred to only as "Individual A." The U.S. attorney's office in Little Rock would neither confirm nor deny the connection between Scott and Pauley, but Cumberland County officials named Scott as the source of the body parts in the news release issued there the day of Pauley's arrest.

According to the release, on June 14, 2022, the East Pennsboro Township Police received a complaint of possible human body parts being sold on Facebook. About three weeks later, East Pennsboro Township Police were called to Pauley's home after receiving a tip regarding possible human remains, including "human organs" and "human skin," contained inside several 5-gallon buckets in the basement of the residence. A search of the home turned up three 5-gallon buckets containing various human remains. A forensic examination of the body parts confirmed that they were human remains.

The indictment said that Scott was employed by a Little Rock mortuary referred to as "Business 1" that contracted with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to cremate the medical school's cadavers used by students. The cadavers were donated to the medical school through its Anatomical Gift Program and, according to the indictment, were to be returned "in whole" to UAMS following cremation.

According to the federal indictment, Scott is believed to have contacted Pauley over Facebook on Oct. 28, 2021, with the message, "I follow your page and work and LOVE it. I'm a mortician and work at a trade service mortuary, so we are contracted through the medical hospital here in Little Rock to cremate their cadavers when the medical students are done with them before they discard them in a cremation garden. Just out of curiosity, would you know anyone in the market for a fully in tact [sic], embalmed brain?"

Later that same day, the indictment said, Scott sent a second message saying, "I actually just looked and I have 2 embalmed with skull caps."

The indictment then outlines a series of nine transfers of 38 cadavers from the UAMS Anatomical Gift Program and one transfer of fetal remains over the next nine months to the crematorium where Scott was employed. According to the indictment, a second fetus transferred to the mortuary from another mortuary, referred to as "Business 2," was also intercepted and sold.

Facebook messages outlined during that time period between Scott and Pauley revealed negotiations regarding prices of specific body parts. On Jan. 8, 2022, according to the indictment, Scott messaged Pauley about fetal remains the crematorium had received that day and sent photos. Pauley then instructed Scott to cold pack the fetus and send it via overnight shipment to him, the indictment said.

On Jan. 13, 2022, the indictment said, an overnight shipment was made via the U.S. Postal Service from Little Rock to Enola, Pa., and that same day, Scott received a $650 payment via PayPal, which was transferred into Scott's personal bank account. Scott also arranged to sell a second set of fetal remains, the indictment said, that came from another mortuary to be cremated and returned. The indictment said that Scott sent a message via Facebook Messenger offering Pauley the fetal remains for $300 because "he's not in great shape."

Over the nine-month period outlined in the indictment, Scott was paid a total of $10,975 in 16 separate PayPal transactions, all of which were transferred to Scott's personal bank account. In return, the indictment outlined nine shipments during the same time period from Little Rock to Pennsylvania of 20 boxes and packages believed to have contained human remains.

The indictment showed that in 2021 four packages of human remains were shipped on Nov. 2, one package on Nov. 12, four boxes on Dec. 10, five boxes on Dec. 12, one box on Dec. 15 and one box on Dec. 31. In 2022, the indictment showed the shipment of one box sent via overnight mail on Jan. 13, one package shipped on Feb. 16 and a final shipment of two boxes on July 9. All of the shipments except the final one were sent to Enola, Pa. The final shipment was sent to Thompson, Pa., the indictment said.

Messages between the two, the indictment said, consisted mainly of offering various body parts for sale, including hearts, brains, skulls, lungs, pieces of skin and other organs. In one message, dated Dec. 2, 2021, the indictment said, Scott offered to sell Pauley "2 brains, one with skullcap, 3 hearts one cut, 2 fake boobies, one large belly button piece of skin, [one] arm, one huge piece of skin, and one lung," for $1,600. That same day, the indictment said, Scott received a payment from Pauley via PayPal for $1,600, which she transferred to her personal bank account.

In another message, dated Dec. 8, 2021, the indictment said, Scott offered Pauley "7 huge pieces of skin, 2 large pieces of skin with tiddy, 4 brains one with skullcap, 1 lung, one penis, 2 testicles, and 3 hearts," for $2,000. That same day, the indictment said, Scott received a payment of $500 via PayPal from Pauley and a second payment of $1,500 a week later, both of which she transferred into her personal bank account. In between the two payments, the indictment said, Scott received an additional $775 in three PayPal transactions for the sale of additional body parts.

In ordering Scott held, Ray pointed to the nature of the crime.

"The indictment alleges horribly egregious conduct, shocking conduct," Ray said. "But under the Bail Reform Act, those aren't factors that I consider for dangerousness that goes to danger to the community or risk of the community. As shocking and depraved as the alleged conduct is, none of that would go toward dangerousness so the only thing I see here that would support a request for detention is obviously flight risk."

Ray told Jegley to confer with Scott's attorney, Seth Bowman of Little Rock, to set a suitable time for a bond hearing, which the judge said he would prefer to hold as early next week as possible.

"Once that date has been agreed on I'll do everything I can to accommodate," Ray said.

Leslie Taylor, a spokeswoman for UAMS, said Friday that officials at UAMS were grateful that federal authorities had moved forward with charges against Scott. Taylor called the people who donate their bodies for medical research "true heroes," and said they are the largest victims in the crime because of the role the donations play in medical education.

"That's really something that we cannot educate students without," she said.

Taylor said the FBI has not told school officials if any identifications have yet been made.

"It is extremely difficult to make identifications from embalmed body parts because the DNA is damaged," she said.

Taylor said UAMS still contracts with the funeral home, Arkansas Central Mortuary Services.

"When the FBI informed us and the owners of the crematorium of this crime, they immediately fired the employee and cooperated fully in the investigation," she said. "This is no indication anyone else is involved."

U.S. Attorney Jonathan Ross praised the FBI on Friday, crediting its agents with putting together the information that resulted in Scott's indictment.

"This is an extremely complex case," he said. "It was the diligent work of FBI investigators that enabled us to take this case to the grand jury and get an indictment."

Ross did not say if other indictments could be forthcoming in the case.

Pauley's case is currently in the hands of Cumberland County District Attorney Sean McCormack in Pennsylvania. He is charged there with dealing in the proceeds of unlawful activities, abuse of a corpse, and two counts of receiving stolen property. McCormack did not respond to a message left seeking comment Friday.

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