Express & Star

Mark Andrews: Hearts and minds? It's a funny old business

I don't think Jeremy Pauley would disagree if I said he is a pretty unusual looking gentleman.

Jeremy Pauley has admitted buying and selling human body parts

Maybe it's the half-inch holes in his earlobes. Perhaps it's the nails through his lips. The tattoos that cover half of his face also make him stand out from the crowd, as does the fact that the white of his left eye is actually turquoise blue.

But I think, weighing up all the evidence, it is probably the metal spikes he has had embedded in his skull that really draws attention.

Jeremy Pauley. Picture: East Pennsboro Township Police Department

Of course, he is not unique in this respect. Indeed, a few months ago I tackled the burning issue of Mr King of Ink Land King Body Art The Extreme Ink-Ite – he changed his name by deed poll – whose penchant for 'personal modification' rather put Mr Pauley in the shade. Sadly, Old King of Ink said he had been forced to put his hobby on hold because of the cost of living crisis.

I guess I will have to file the craze for dyeing your eyeballs and embedding the contents of the Wilko closing-down sale into your face under the ever-growing list of headed 'things I don't understand about people today'. A bit like TikTok, Love Island and Instagram.

But the interesting thing about Mr Pauley is his unusual choice of career, which I would suggest is not really compatible with his distinctive appearance.

Now I'll admit my knowledge of organised crime comes largely from watching The Professionals, The Sweeney and The Bill, but I imagine if you are going to make your living out trading in stolen goods, it's probably not a good idea to draw attention to yourself. Which embedding nails into your lips and spikes into your bonce kind of tends to do.

It's not as if it was just any old stolen goods that Jeremy has been involved in handling. The 41-year-old from Pennsylvania, who describes himself as a 'human blood artist', is facing 15 years in the nick after pleading guilty to selling stolen human body parts.

He is part of a gang which allegedly stole human remains from Harvard Medical School and a mortuary in Arkansas, then transported them across the United States, before delivering them to their presumably happy customers.

His co-accused, the 55-year-old manager of the morgue, is alleged to have helped himself to heads, brains, skin and bones, taking them back to his home before selling them on to the punters.

Some were distributed through mail order, the authorities allege, while others dropped into the morgue to see if anything took their fancy.

I can't help but think that this information poses more questions than it answers. For example, was there nobody at the morgue who thought it might have been a bit unusual that a member of staff was taking human heads home with him at the end of his shift? "I've had a right old day, Bob, I'm going to have to take a bit of work home with me."

I'm making the assumption that the people involved all lived alone. Because even if you're used to living with a 'human blood artist' who has dyed half of his face blue and stuck a couple of curtain rings through his earlobes, it's still surely quite a leap to tolerating half a dozen human brains in the fridge and a bag of bones in the pantry. Unless you've been married to Idi Amin, I suppose.

There is also the small matter of who actually buys this stuff, and what do they do with it? Then again, I'm going to make the assumption that pretty much everyone involved in this kind of enterprise will be a little deficient in the brains department.

The other question is how did Mr Pauley and Co market their products, how did they reach their customer base?

Maybe they put an advert in Exchange & Heart.