Crime & Courts

N.M. tries to ID remains after arrest

ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico medical investigators are trying to identify remains at an Albuquerque business following the arrest of its owner on fraud charges after seven heads, a torso and several limbs were found at a Kansas medical waste company.

The charges against Paul Montano came after the body parts were traced back to Bio Care, an Albuquerque company that handles donations for medical research. Authorities said Bio Care was supposed to have donated the organs in the bodies to science and had the remains cremated.

Authorities said some of the body parts found in Kansas were identified as belonging to people whose cremated remains allegedly had been returned to their families.

Montano has said his company wasn't involved with the body parts found in Kansas.

Amy Boule, a spokeswoman for the state Office of the Medical Investigator, said not all the 25 to 50 human remains the office now has from Bio Care are whole bodies, and the exact number of individuals won't be known until everything is identified.

The case came to light last week after the parts were found in three separate biohazard shipments to Stericycle Co. of Kansas City, Kan. Stericycle handles medical waste but generally does not dispose of major body parts.

Bio Care receives donated bodies and harvests organs and other parts that it sells for medical research. Researchers return the organs to Bio Care once their studies are complete, then Bio Care sends the remains for cremation and gives the ashes to the families.

The company has a contract with Stericycle to dispose of any leftover medical waste.

Boule said body parts in Kansas will not be sent back to New Mexico medical investigators, and the Kansas City coroner will be responsible for those identifications.

She said her office has a list of clients of Bio Care, which will help with identifications.

New Mexico medical investigators will identify bodies and body parts in Albuquerque with dental records if appropriate, fingerprints if possible, identification numbers on any medical devices in body parts and DNA if necessary, Boule said.

The office will not release names once identifications are made because they don't fall under the classification of reportable deaths it normally deals with, such as traffic crashes, Boule said.

Montano was arrested and booked March 31 on three counts of fraud. He was released on bond Friday.

A criminal complaint said bodies were dismembered with a chain saw or another cutting device; Montano has denied dismembering any bodies.