When FBI agents searched a Mount Washington, Kentucky, apartment Tuesday and found 40 human skulls, spinal cords, femurs and hip bones inside, they asked occupant James Nott if anyone else was home.
“Only my dead friends,” he responded.
Agents found one skull wrapped in a head scarf and another sitting on a mattress where Nott slept. Others were strewn around Apartment No. 3 as if they were decorations.
The grisly discoveries were disclosed in a criminal complaint that put Nott in the middle of a multistate and international trade in body parts stolen from the morgue at Harvard Medical School and a mortuary in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The complaint and an FBI affidavit to search Nott’s home in Mount Washington – which is roughly 25 miles southeast of Louisville – says Nott received body parts from abroad and sold them in the United States.
In Facebook posts describing the parts and their price, Nott used the pseudonym “William Burke,” which the affidavit says in a footnote was used by a serial killer active in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1827-28 with his partner, William Hare.
Together the pair sold the bodies of their victims to Dr. Robert Knox an influential lecturer in anatomy at the University of Edinburgh.
The U.S. scheme was discovered when police in East Pennsboro Township, Pennsylvania, got a tip the human remains could be found at the residence of Jeremy Pauley, in nearby Enola.
Police executed a search warrant and found items that included human organs and skin.
Pauley’s wife, Sarah, provided law enforcement with screen shots that showed he was communicating with a woman who worked at a mortuary in Little Rock, Arkansas.
She allegedly stole remains that were due to be cremated and sold them to Pauley over Facebook. They included human hearts, brains lungs and