In April 2003, Robert Ambrosino murdered his ex-fiancée — a 22-year-old aspiring actress — by shooting her in the face with a .45-caliber pistol.
Then Ambrosino turned the gun around and killed himself.
Soon after, Ambrosino’s corpse entered the United States’ vast tissue-donation system, his skin, bones and other body parts destined for use in the manufacture of cutting-edge medical products.
But before they entered the system, Michael Mastromarino, owner of a New Jersey-based tissue recovery firm, needed to solve a couple of problems.
He didn’t want to have to report that Ambrosino had perished in a murder-suicide. And he didn’t want anyone to know that Ambrosino’s family hadn’t given permission for his body to be used for tissue donation.
Mastromarino solved both problems the same way: He lied.
He claimed Ambrosino died in a car accident. And he claimed that Ambrosino’s family had agreed to donate his tissue before the rest of his remains were cremated.
Mastromarino was the leader of a now-infamous human tissue trafficking ring that fed an international trade in body parts. Along with tissues from Ambrosino’s corpse, he stole parts from grandmothers, electrical engineers, and factory workers, as well as from the remains of famed journalist Alistair Cooke.