Bones - While celebrities are alive,
they are sought out for their autographs by avid fans, but
sometimes the need to have something "celebrity" gets out of
hand as in the case of Alistair Cooke, the popular host of PBS's
MASTERPIECE THEATER from 1971-1993. When he died on March 30,
2004, Cooke's bones were illegally harvested (surgically
removed) right before his body was to be cremated. Cooke had
died of lung cancer that spread to his bones. His 95 year-old
cancerous bones were then sold (for $7000) to tissue processing
companies for transplanting purposes.
The alleged body-snatching ghoul who stole the bones was Michael
Mastromarino, the operator of Biomedical Tissue Services Ltd., a
tissue recovery business that sold body parts, including bone,
skin and cardiac valves. Cooke's remains were supposedly sold to
Regeneration Technologies Inc., of Alachua, Fla., and Tutogen
Medical Inc., of Paterson, N.J.
Mastromarino altered the death records to say Cooke died from a
heart attack at the age of 85 so he could sell the remains and
bypass Food and Drug Administration regulations which prohibit
the use of cancerous bones and aged body parts.
Mastromarino's former partner, Joseph Nicelli, an embalmer, was
also investigated for allegedly forging hundreds of records in
their business from 2000 to October 2005.