A Little Rock woman accused of selling human body parts from a crematorium she worked for in late 2021 into mid-2022 was ordered Wednesday to undergo a mental evaluation by a federal magistrate judge before her case can proceed.
Candace Chapman Scott, 36, is facing numerous charges related to allegations she was selling the body parts to a Pennsylvania man she met through a Facebook group concerning "oddities."
The macabre scheme began to unravel on June 14, 2022, with a complaint to police in the Pennsylvania municipality of East Pennsboro Township regarding buckets of body parts discovered at the home of 40-year-old Jeremy Lee Pauley, a local artist and self-described "oddities collector."
Pauley was arrested Aug. 18, 2022, by East Pennsboro Township police, according to a news release from the Cumberland County, Pa., district attorney's office. Although Scott's name came out in that investigation, she was not charged in Pennsylvania and was not indicted federally until April in the Eastern District of Arkansas.
The U.S. attorney's office in Little Rock has neither confirmed nor denied the connection between Scott and Pauley, but Cumberland County officials named Scott as the source of the body parts in the news release issued there the day of Pauley's arrest.
On Wednesday, U.S. Marshals escorted Scott into the courtroom from the Pulaski County jail, where she has been held since her arrest on Friday. After a half-hour closed hearing involving Scott, U.S. attorneys Amanda Jegley and Anne Gardner, and Scott's attorney, Seth Bowman of Little Rock, Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Thomas Ray announced that he was ordering the mental evaluation at Bowman's request.
He ordered Scott to be held in federal custody until she can be transported to the appropriate Bureau of Prisons facility for administration of the evaluation.
According to the federal indictment, Scott is believed to have contacted Pauley -- referred to as "Individual A" in the indictment -- over Facebook on Oct. 28, 2021, with the message, "I follow your page and work and LOVE it. I'm a mortician and work at a trade service mortuary, so we are contracted through the medical hospital here in Little Rock to cremate their cadavers when the medical students are done with them before they discard them in a cremation garden. Just out of curiosity, would you know anyone in the market for a fully in tact [sic], embalmed brain?"
Later that same day, the indictment said, Scott sent a second message saying, "I actually just looked and I have 2 embalmed with skull caps." The indictment then outlines a series of nine transfers of 38 cadavers from the UAMS Anatomical Gift Program and one transfer of fetal remains over the next nine months to the crematorium where Scott was employed. According to the indictment, a second fetus transferred to the mortuary from another mortuary, referred to as "Business 2," was also intercepted and sold.
At the time of the offense conduct described in the indictment, Scott was employed at Arkansas Central Mortuary Services -- referred to as "Business 1" in the indictment -- which contracts with UAMS to cremate the medical school's research cadavers. Scott's responsibilities there, the indictment said, included the transport, embalming and cremation of human remains.
The indictment said that Scott, who did not hold an active mortician's license, was not authorized "to harvest organs, tissues, or bones, or dismember a corpse, for any purpose, including financial gain."
Over the nine-month period outlined in the indictment, Scott was paid a total of $10,975 in 16 separate Pay-Pal transactions, all of which were transferred to Scott's personal bank account. In return, the indictment outlined nine shipments during the same time period from Little Rock to Pennsylvania of 20 boxes and packages believed to have contained human remains.
According to UAMS spokeswoman Leslie Taylor, the medical school still contracts with Arkansas Central Mortuary Services for cremation services.
"When the FBI informed us and the owners of the crematorium of this crime, they immediately fired the employee and cooperated fully in the investigation," Taylor said on Friday. She said there has been no indication of any involvement of anyone else connected with the mortuary. She said officials at UAMS were grateful that federal authorities had moved forward with charges against Scott and said the biggest victims in the crime are those who donated their bodies to the medical school for research purposes.
"They are the true heroes," Taylor said. "That's really something that we cannot educate students without."