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Doctor Who Sold Heads Held For Trial For Abuse Of Corpse

January 16, 1987

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A doctor who bought and sold human heads and body parts was ordered Friday to stand trial, but his lawyer said the man was trying to advance medical science, not make a profit.

Arraignment for Dr. Martin Spector was scheduled for Feb. 6 on charges of criminal conspiracy, unlawful taking of property, theft of body parts and violation of the health code for shipping heads, ears and arms to medical research facilities.

″The court rejects the defense argument that body parts are not property,″ Judge Ronald Merriweather ruled in finding there was sufficient evidence to go to trial.

″The court feels that it would outrage the sensibility of any family to have a relative’s head sold,″ Merriweather said. ″We reject the notion that when a person donates a body to a medical school they expect anything to be done with it and don’t want it back.″

Attorney Joel Slomsky said after the preliminary hearing that Spector ″didn’t profit in any way, shape or form.

″His only purpose in obtaining heads and other body parts was strictly to advance medical science, and to eradicate disease, and not for profit. He was only involved with reputable institutions and whatever money he received was to cover his expenses.″

Testimony at the hearing disclosed that Spector, 71, paid $150 for each head delivered to his office, $65 for half a head, and $20 per pair of ear bones. The parts came from cadavers donated to medical research.

Detective Daniel Rosenstein said a statement given him by the ear, nose and throat specialist after his arrest in October indicated he had been dealing in human parts for at least 20 years.

The case surfaced last summer when boxes containing five heads were discovered in a United Parcel Service depot in Louisville, Ky., bound for a Colorado research center. The return address on the package was Spector’s.

Held for trial with the physician were three men who worked as dieners - people who sew up bodies after autopsies - in the morgues of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, and the Veterans Administration Medical Center.

Lenard Stephen of Jefferson, Reuben Whitehead of the VA center and Lynwood Summers of Penn were held on criminal conspiracy, theft, receiving stolen property and abuse of corpse charges.

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