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VEGAS MYTHS BUSTED: The Cadaver Brothel

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Posted on: April 1, 2024, 08:04h. 

Last updated on: March 29, 2024, 08:22h.

In 2018, a Las Vegas man was reportedly arrested for using the premises of his employer, the Clark County Coroner’s Office, to run a “cadaver brothel” during closing hours.

cadaver in mortuary
Please don’t try this at home, kids. (Image: medicalstretchers.com)

This is not an April Fools’ joke.

For more than five years, James Whitaker, 36, reportedly accepted large sums of cash in exchange for allowing men to have sex with their pick of the dead bodies entrusted to his care as a medical examiner.

“According to investigators, he asked customers from $1,500 to $5,000 per sexual encounter, depending on the ‘quality of the merchandise,’” read a story published by the World News Daily Report (WNDR) website on July 13, 2018.

Working Stiffs

Whitaker was reportedly arrested after agreeing to sell the services of a 49-year-old car accident victim to an undercover Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officer.

“Investigators had to spend months chatting with him on necrophile forums before he let his guard down and offered his services,” according to the WNDR. “A sting operation was rapidly organized and he was arrested on the spot.”

A mug shot of the alleged perp. (Image: World News Daily Report)

A total of 1,734 criminal charges of necrophilia, corpse desecration, and felony mutilation of human remains meant that Whitaker faced up to 700 years in prison, the website noted.

And what did Whitaker have to say for himself? Only that he hoped his trial would “lead to the abolition of Nevada’s laws against necrophilia,” which he believed were unconstitutional.

Death Blow

We stated before that this wasn’t an April Fools’ joke. However, we didn’t state that the story was true.

The World News Daily Report, it turns out, is one of an alarmingly increasing number of “news satire” websites designed to fool people into sharing sensational stories crafted without a hint of the humor or sarcasm of The Onion or even the Weekly World News.

The World News Daily Report was founded in November 2013 by Janick Murray-Hall and Olivier Legault in their native Canada. Two years later, Gizmodo, a real news website, ranked it among the world’s nine worst fake ones. Journalist Matt Novak wrote that the World News Daily Report “doesn’t always seem intent on deceiving people, but it’s still not very good, not very good at all.”

Among the small number of people actually amused by its stories must be its authors, who frequently pepper them with real facts and assorted in-jokes that no one else could possibly appreciate, such as the actual photographs and names of virtually unknown criminals and police officers.

A typical World News Daily Report headline from 2019. (Image: X.com)

In its cadaver brothel story, which was inspired by an unsavory old Sam Kinison comedy routine called “Parties with the Dead,” the mugshot belonged to Lester Mullet, leader of a ring of members of a breakaway Amish group charged with hate crimes for “haircutting attacks against other Amish,” according to a 2011 Associated Press story.

By the way, asinine fiction is better than a real story like that how? 

Fake News’ Real Harm

If social media were still just a source of entertainment, the continued spread of fake news would be an easier pill to swallow. But for Gen Z — those born between 1997 and 2012 — social media is their main source of information.

In fact, a 2022 study by Reuters found that 39% of 18-to-24-year-olds consulted only social media to stay informed, versus 34% who also visited the news websites and apps still frequented by older generations.

In other words, these sites help to further erode America’s already flagging trust in legitimate news sources for their operators’ financial gain.

The cadaver brothel story was shared by dozens of social media sites. The largest, with 17K followers, was the UK’s non-satirical City of Preston News Network on Facebook, whose motto is “We believe news should be uncensored.” It went so viral, Snopes dedicated a page to debunking it. 

This World News Daily Report gem quite rightly outraged thousands of Twitter users who shared it from 2014 to 2018. So you don’t understand what could possibly qualify it as satire? We don’t, either. (Image: X/Twitter)

Of course, like most fake news sites, the World News Daily Report publishes a disclaimer: “WNDR assumes all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles, and for the fictional nature of their content.”

Right. Because everyone on social media searches for disclaimers published deep within websites before clicking the “share” button on an insane-sounding headline.

Though Murray-Hall claimed that the World News Daily Report generated more than $73K in the last four months of 2018, as of this writing, the site no longer exists and no explanation was offered as to why. (Like anyone would believe a word uttered by its creators anyway.)

Please don’t cry, though. Replacement misinformation websites pop up every day that are just as worthwhile.

Disclaimer: That last sentence was satirical.

Look for “Vegas Myths Busted” every Monday on Casino.org. Visit VegasMythsBusted.com to read previously busted Vegas myths. Got a suggestion for a Vegas myth that needs busting? Email corey@casino.org.

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