About the same time that Rose Oprea was hospitalized for her stroke, the 62nd precinct of the New York City police department, in Brooklyn, was notified of a possible case of fraud. A couple — Deborah Johnson and her husband, Robert Nelms — had recently purchased the Daniel George & Son Funeral Home. A man had come to the home wishing to bury his aunt, who had prepaid for her funeral; Johnson could not find the appropriate documentation, and noticed larger-scale accounting irregularities. The case was assigned to Detective Patricia O’Brien.
O’Brien checked the files at the funeral home, which seemed to corroborate Johnson’s concern. But there was something else, Johnson told O’Brien. The detective accompanied her upstairs, to a hidden room. It was fitted out like an operating room, with hospital-style overhead lights, a hydraulic lift that rose through the ceiling of the embalming room on the floor below, a toilet with tubes into which blood and other bodily fluids were drained, scalpels, knives, saws….
Back at the precinct, O’Brien began Googling addresses from forms Johnson had also shown her: All were for tissue-transplant companies, scattered around the country.