A 38-year-old woman from Colorado is due to appear in court next month on smuggling charges, accused of attempting to sell jars containing human fetuses to a buyer in the UK.
While in transit from Canon City, Colorado, the grisly merchandise made a stop-off in San Francisco, where customs officials noticed that it lacked a certificate stating that it contained no dangerous or illegal contents. After X-raying the box – labeled to be containing “school teaching aids and T-shirts” – the authorities noticed that its contents were not as advertised, and opened it up to discover three human fetuses in glass containers.
Under federal law it is illegal to transfer human fetal tissue, resulting in charges being brought against the seller, one Emily Suzanne Cain. After obtaining a warrant, officials discovered that the defendant had been flogging the unborn specimens on Facebook, selling one for $500 while attempting to sell a bundle of four for a total of $20,000.
According to Gizmodo, the intercepted package contained fingerprints belonging to Cain and a man named Glen McGinty, as well as a note referencing McGinty Fine Oddities, which claims on its website to sell “the very best oddities and curiosities,” supplying to “the top collectors, institutions, and museums worldwide.”
Incredibly, the seized specimens were found to be almost a century old, and are thought to be still-births that were donated to Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, in the 1920s. As disturbing as the whole affair may be, it is at least reassuring to know that the fetuses were obtained from an institution rather than through more sinister means.
After being approached by the authorities, university officials said that the institution’s policy is to cremate all specimens that are no longer required, rather than sell them. How these fetuses managed to escape the furnace and end up in the hands of private sellers has not been made public.
Cain has pleaded not guilty to the charges and will go before the US District Court in San Francisco on November 20.