CHICAGO (STMW) — Pequeena Dixon was told that the box of ashes she was handed two years ago by a north suburban cremation business was her father’s cremains.
But when the FBI raided the Rosemont-based Biological Resource Center of Illinois last month, they made a disturbing find, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday: Dixon’s father’s head, shoulders and legs.
William Earl Perkins — a former Cook County sheriff’s officer, who died from a stroke on Nov. 26, 2013 — had wanted his remains donated to science. Any remains that weren’t used by medical students or for research were supposed to have been cremated, the lawsuit says.
But his body parts were found “in a condition such that Defendants’ promise to treat the remains with dignity and respect was utterly violated, and suggesting that the ashes delivered to plaintiffs were likely not Perkins’ remains at all,” the suit states.
Dixon alleges portions of her father’s body were sold for profit instead of being used for medical research. She believes hundreds or thousands of others were similarly mistreated, the suit says.
The FBI raided BRCI in January 2015 on suspicion that it was selling body parts for profit, claiming most of them were sold to International Biological Inc., based in Detroit, as well as Biological Resource Center in Phoenix, Ariz., according to the lawsuit.
The transactions between the businesses are thought to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and date back to the late 1990s, the suit said.
Both the Arizona and Michigan businesses have since been dissolved, the suit said. BRCI is still operating.
The seven-count lawsuit filed by Dixon in Cook County Circuit Court claims fraud, emotional distress, breach of contract, negligence, conspiracy, among other claims, and seeks unspecified damages. The suit is also seeking class-action status.
It describes Perkins as a “just, honorable and well-loved man” who was active in the civil rights movement. Mayor Richard M. Daley inducted him into the Chicago Senior Citizens Hall of Fame in 2008 in recognition of his community service, the suit states.
Prior to Perkins’ death, his daughter completed a “Willed Body to Science Document Gift Form,” which stated her dad’s body would be used by hospital students for medical research, the suit said. The rest of his body parts were to be cremated.
Vista Hospice and Mercy Hospital recommended the use of BRCI for the donation of his body, the suit said.
The suit lists BRCI, Biological Resource Center, International Biological, Inc., Arthroscopy Association of North America, Anatomical Services, Waukegan Hospice and Mercy Hospital and Medical Center as defendants.
Calls made to various plaintiffs were not immediately returned Thursday night.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2015. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)