Southwest employee discovers shipment of heads on passenger jet - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/17/10

Southwest employee discovers shipment of heads on passenger jet

(NBC) - A rather bizarre cargo controversy has popped up in Arkansas. A shipment of human heads bound for Fort Worth, Texas is now stuck in Arkansas after a Southwest airline employee opened the package and called police.

The Fort Worth company where the heads were expected says they are for educational purposes.

But the question is, why were they not properly packaged or labeled.

Strange as it may seem, it's not unusual for any airline to ship bodies or even body parts for medical research.

In Little Rock, Southwest Airlines says a courier showed up with a package to fly to Texas but claimed to not know what was inside.

The Southwest employee looked inside and found 40 to 60 human heads!

The airline called police, who turned the package over to the county coroner, who has plenty of questions.

Garland Camper, the Pulaski County Coroner, said "in our discussion with the health department, we've come to the conclusion that there is a black market for body parts out there. We just want to make sure these specimens aren't part of that underground trade."

The heads were being shipped to this building on North Beach Street in Fort Worth to Medtronic, a leading medical research and technology company.

The company says it, too, is now asking questions of its supplier, JLS consulting.

According to Arkansas records, its business license was revoked in December.

It was founded by Janice Hepler. Here she is, on the website of another company she runs that arranges for anatomical gifts.

So far, we have been unable to reach Helper but in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper, she blamed the problem on a courier.

"Nothing is wrong," the newspaper quoted her as saying. "We're providing the documentation."

The Pulaski County, Arkansas coroner says he is still waiting for records showing that the human heads were legally obtained and being transported for a lawful purpose. Until he gets the paperwork, the heads will remain at the county morgue.

Copyright 2010 KCBD. All rights reserved.

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