Friday in Portland: Multnomah County votes to ban pay-per-view displays of human remains and more

Emily Scarvie
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By Emily Scarvie

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Friday, April 15 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. Multnomah County commissioners vote unanimously to ban pay-per-view displays of human remains following October incident

Following a controversial event where visitors paid hundreds of dollars to watch a live autopsy of a human cadaver at a Portland hotel in October, Multnomah County commissioners voted unanimously on Thursday to ban the public display of human remains for profit. The autopsy was organized by a company called Death Science, as part of the Oddities and Curiosities Expo held in Portland last year.

Video from the event shows more than two dozen people watching the dissection. When the event made headlines, a funeral director in Louisiana recognized the name of the man whose body was on display. David Saunders, a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, died of COVID in August 2021. His family honored his wishes by donating his body to science, not knowing his corpse would end up on display in a hotel conference room.

“I was duped by selfish and immoral people for the sake of their personal monetary gain,” Saunders’ widow, Elsie, said while testifying before Multnomah County commissioners by phone on Thursday. “Adding to my grief for his loss is the vision in my mind of his naked and defenseless body being dismembered like a butcher preparing an animal carcass for sale.”

The proposed county ordinance bans the commercial display of dead bodies to the public. It does make some exceptions for accredited funeral homes, museums like OMSI and universities like OHSU. Formal approval of the county law will still require a second vote.

2. Former PSU student, football player arraigned on murder charges

Former Portland State University student and football player Keenan Harpole was arraigned Thursday on murder and domestic violence charges. Harpole is accused of killing his former girlfriend, 19-year-old Amara Marluke, near the PSU campus earlier this month. Marluke was a music student at the university.

Harpole pleaded not guilty in the shooting death of Marluke alongside his attorney. Marluke’s family was in court but opted not to speak. Her mother thanked the Portland Police Bureau for their work on her daughter’s case. No motive has been released in the case.

3. Oregon Zoo welcomes newborn orangutan this week

The Oregon Zoo’s Bornean orangutan Kitra gave birth this week for the first time. The zoo said the new mom and newborn, who doesn’t yet have a name, are doing well in a behind-the-scenes maternity den. They’ll stay there until animal-care staff determine that they’re ready for a public debut.

“We will be watching to assess their progress,” Kate Gilmore, who oversees the zoo’s primate area, said. “The first few days are especially critical. Our care staff and veterinary team have been dedicated to giving Kitra everything she needed for a successful birth. Thankfully, she hasn’t needed much help from us so far. She’s doing a great job by herself.”

Kitra has been at the Oregon Zoo since 2015. She was moved to Oregon from the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo to join male orangutan Bob, the newborn’s father, who came from South Carolina’s Greenville Zoo.

More Portland News:

Comments / 2

Published by

Covering everything happening in the City of Roses, from politics and COVID-19 to lifestyle and local businesses + more.

Portland, OR

More from Emily Scarvie

Comments / 0