Episode 392:

Hollywood Phony

The "Highway Killer"


The Controversial History of the "Bodies" Exhibits


Episode 392: Hollywood Phony

On today's episode, Karen and Georgia cover the "Highway Killer" and the controversial history of the "Bodies" exhibits.

Listen on Apple Podcasts.

The "Highway Killer"

The "Highway Killer" Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Scott Wilson / Alamy

Other Image:

  1. Jeanie, Shea, and Kevin McDonough (Associated Press)


"The sign outside Jordan’s Country Restaurant says “Truckers Welcome,” and Adam Leroy Lane treated the eatery in the shadow of Interstate 77 like home base.

Most nights, the trucker and sometime chicken-plant worker would come in alone on third shift, even when he was off work with his bad back. He’d plop down in the smoking section and order his usual: Two hot dogs, “all the way,” no onion. If manager Sydney Hanson wasn’t quick enough with his drink, he’d shout: “Hey. Pain in the butt. Get my Diet Mountain Dew!”

“I used to joke with him, like I joke with all the other customers in here,” Hanson said recently as she stood behind the register before a crossed pair of American flags and a shelf crammed with NASCAR models. “Never thought in my mind that he’d be some kind of psychopath.”

But that is the picture of the 43-year-old high school dropout that is emerging from police — a deadly stalker who used the interstate rumbling past Jordan’s as his hunting ground.

Lane was arraigned yesterday in Lowell, Mass., for a brutal attack earlier this summer. Handcuffed and shackled, he did not speak except to say “not guilty” to 10 charges, including home invasion, assault with intent to murder and attempted rape of a child. He’s being held without bail.

Officials allege the western North Carolina man broke into a Chelmsford home on July 30 and attempted to rape a 15-year-old girl. Police say Lane was clad all in black, including mask and gloves, and was armed with three knives, a martial-arts throwing star and garrote, or “choke wire.”

He was also charged in the death of a New Jersey woman. And authorities in two other states have said they are investigating him in connection with a string of unsolved crimes, though they have not filed charges..."


Source: “Picture Emerges of Deadly Stalker” by Allen G. Breed (Associated Press) 2007 

The Controversial History of the "Bodies" Exhibits

The Controversial History of the "Bodies" Exhibits Notes:

Other Image:

  1. Gunther von Hagens (360b / Alamy)


"To many he is nothing more than a fedora-wearing ringmaster of a circus of cadavers. To others he is an accomplished anatomist who, through his invention of plastination (where body parts are preserved by saturating them with polymer resin), has brought an understanding of the human body to lay people.

As we meet, newspapers report that Munich, the show's next destination, has banned the exhibition, forcing Gunther von Hagens to appeal. He is confident that the show will go ahead, attributing the ban to the conservative and strongly Catholic sensibilities of the region. We meet on the penultimate day of the exhibition in London's east end. Meeting von Hagens is like meeting Hannibal Lecter from the film Silence of the Lambs—both are fiercely intelligent and have a finely tuned appreciation of Renaissance art, opera, and philosophy and a passion for flaying dead bodies.

In pictures he appears bloodless and stern, but in the flesh he is surprisingly normal. He has an honest, open face, smiles a lot, and has a conscientious manner.

He wanted to be a doctor from the age of 6, when he spent six months in hospital with haemophilia A. “When I was 6 years old an artery in my forehead ruptured. My head was heavy and my face was wet with blood. I called the nurse and was rushed to the operating room. I heard the doctors say: ‘He will die.’ Before the ether narcosis faded me away I thought, ‘Would it be bad to die?’

“Ever since, I wanted to become a medical doctor. I found it a mystery why doctors took a stethoscope to listen to my chest. I thought, ‘It must be very precious inside me.’”

Born in East Germany, von Hagens left school at the age of 16 and took a number of jobs, including working as a postman and lift attendant. After studying at night school he was eventually accepted by Jena University to study medicine. At the age of 23 he was caught trying to flee to the West with a forged passport and was imprisoned for two years. After his release he completed his medical degree at the University of Löbeck, became an anaesthetist, and opted for anatomy.

He claims that he enjoys being the centre of controversy, saying: “I like the controversy because controversy is democracy.” This is just as well, as he has been surrounded by a great deal of controversy. Some people have suggested that he has illegally traded in corpses from as far afield as Siberia, and others have portrayed him as a Frankenstein figure.

He defends himself vigorously: “Never have any authorities even asked me, charged me, [or] ever suspected I received any body illegally. By law I am entitled to receive unclaimed bodies from wherever I want.” He has set up a programme under which people can sign up to have their bodies plastinated after death. It now has 5200 names..."


Source: “Scientist or Showman” by Debashis Singh (British Medical Journal, March 1, 2003)

Georgia's Episode Sources

  1. “Gunther von Hagens: Under the Skin of Doctor Death” by Jeremy Laurance (The Independent, October 30th, 2007)
  2. “The Plastinarium of Dr. von Hagens” by Daniel Engber (Wired, February 12, 2013)
  3. “Frankfurt Journal; A New Spine-Tingler From the Impresario of Cadavers” by Mark Landler (New York Times, February 3, 2004)
  4. “World Briefing: German Anatomist Unsure He Accepted Executed” by Kirsten Grieshaber (New York Times, January 23, 2004)
  5. “Manheim Journal; Anatomy on Display, And it’s All Too Human” by Edmund L. Andrews, (New York Times, January 7, 1998)
  6. “November 17-23: INTERNATIONAL; AUTOPSY TV” by Alan Cowell (New York Times, November 24, 2002)
  7. “Public Autopsy Leaves Londoners Squirming and Gaping” by Alan Cowell (New York Times, November 21, 2002)
  8. “Cadaver Sex Exhibition in Germany is Criticized” by David Itzkoff (New York Times, May 7, 2009)
  9. “Scientist or Showman” by Debashis Singh (British Medical Journal, March 1, 2003)
  10. “Education or freak show? 'Bodies ... The Exhibition' cashes in on our own curiosity” by Winda Benedetti (Seattle Post-Intellegencer, September 27, 2006)
  11. “Fury at Exhibit of Corpses Having Sex” by Kate Connolly (The Guardian, May 6, 2009)
  12. “Exhibitor of Bodies Intends to Contribute His Own” by Steven Erlanger (The New York Times, January 5, 2011)
  13. “The Smithsonian’s ‘Bone Doctor’ Scavenged Thousands of Body Parts” by Nicole Dungca, Claire Healy and Anrew Ba Trang (The Washington Post, August 15th, 2023)
  14. “9/11 Rescue Worker Chooses to Have Her Body Preserved After Death” by Marcus Biddle (WHYY, March 17, 2023)
  15. “Ivy League university set to rebury skulls of Black people kept for centuries” by Ed Pilkington (The Guardian, August 7, 2022)
  16. “'Shrunken heads' removed from display as museum seeks to 'decolonise' collection” (Sky News, September 14, 2020)