Love, Honor, Betray on ID is investigating the crimes of Michael Mastromarino, a former dentist, who became known as the Bodysnatcher because he was illegally selling tissue from dead bodies that he had harvested in the New York area.
On the outside, Michael Mastromarino was seen as a successful dentist who had it all. He was in a loving marriage with Barbra Reifel; the pair were nicknamed Barbie and Ken by their family and friends. They were seen as the perfect couple, and their wedding was described as a fairytale.
Unfortunately, appearances can deceive, and all was not well under the surface of their marriage. Mastromarino had become a secret drug addict, and he had cheated on Barbra. And then he began harvesting bodies for tissue.
Mastromarino quit dentistry and legally obtained a license from New York state to sell body tissue. Tissue includes anything that’s not an organ, which includes tendons, ligaments, skin, bones, heart valves, and corneas. This tissue can then be reused in medical procedures such as repairing torn ligaments.
Mastromarino was supposed to ask family members for permission to take and sell tissue, but instead, the twisted individual just paid undertakers $1,000 to let him know when they had a corpse. He would then harvest the tissue and fake the paperwork that suggested he had consent.
He further lied by failing to cite when the deceased had died from AIDS or cancer; instead, he would state a different cause of death on the paperwork, which would allow the use of the tissue.
Mastromarino recruited a network of undertakers in the New York area, who would telephone him when they had a body. The sick doctor would then go to the funeral home and harvest the tissue.
He earned between $10,000 and $15,000 per body, and business was booming. At one point, he was making over a million dollars a year. He bought a mansion in New Jersey and installed heaters under the driveway so he wouldn’t have to shovel snow in the winter.
NYPD made grim discovery that led to Mastrmarino’s downfall
Mastromarino’s crimes and his network of dodgy undertakers finally came to light in 2005 when the NYPD came across a secret room at a New York funeral home that contained surgical equipment. The discovery was likened to something out of “Frankenstein.”
The former dentist insisted that he hadn’t really been doing anything wrong. However, family members were distraught to learn about what had happened to their deceased loved ones. And patients who had received tissue now had to come to terms with the fact they might have contracted a deadly disease.
In 2008, Mastromarino pleaded guilty to enterprise corruption, reckless endangerment, and body stealing. He was sentenced to 15 to 30 years behind bars. And Barbra divorced him.
In July 2013, Mastromarino died in prison from bone and liver cancer. At the time, his former wife Barbra expressed relief that he no longer posed a danger to her, her children, or society.
More from Investigation Discovery
Follow the links to read about more horrific crimes investigated on ID.
Cesar Barone, aka The Serial Killer of Washington County, killed at least four women in Oregon in the early 1990s. He sexually assaulted his victims before shooting or strangling them.
Judy Buenoana was dubbed The Black Widow because she attempted to murder those closest to her, including her husband, son, and partners. Her preferred method of murder was poison.
Love, Honor, Betray airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.