45 Human Heads Found in Flight Cargo

New York Times

June 17, 2010

A Southwest Airlines cargo worker last week opened three suspicious boxes at Little Rock National Airport and found 45 human heads, bound for a medical laboratory in Fort Worth. The heads were to be used to help train neurosurgeons.

“As you might imagine, this is not something our cargo employees see on an everyday basis,” said Whitney Eichinger, a Southwest spokeswoman.

Body parts used for medical purposes are commonly shipped by air. But because the boxes on the Southwest flight were not properly labeled or packaged, the airline alerted the local authorities and the Federal Aviation Administration.

An aviation agency investigator determined that the Arkansas company that shipped the boxes, JLS Consulting Group LLC, had not broken any federal laws involving the transportation of hazardous materials. But the Pulaski County coroner’s office in Little Rock, which seized the shipment, was investigating whether the company was operating legally.

JLS, whose Web site says it conducts medical education and research services, had its business license revoked last year, according to the Arkansas secretary of state’s online database. Natasha Naragon, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state, said the license revocation came because JLS had failed to pay its state franchise taxes and to submit proper documents.

The coroner, Garland Camper, said he had not ruled out that the heads had been harvested and transported illegally. He said he was working with state and federal agencies.

JLS’s founder, Janice Hepler, did not respond to a telephone message.


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