When FBI agents arrived at James Nott’s Kentucky apartment with a search warrant on Tuesday, they asked if anyone else was home.
“Only my dead friends,” Nott replied.
That’s according to the FBI, who in a criminal complaint detailed 40 human skulls and other remains they found decorating Nott’s home, tying him to a ring of people allegedly buying and selling human body parts illegally – including a Harvard Medical School morgue manager, who is accused of stealing cadaver parts.
The skulls were strewn around Nott’s house; one had a headscarf wrapped around it and another was found on the mattress where he slept, according to the complaint. The agents also found spinal cords, femurs, hip bones and a Harvard Medical School bag, according to the affidavit submitted by the FBI.
Nott has not been charged with crimes connected with the body parts. But he is facing a federal charge of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person due to his status as a convicted felon.
In 2011, Nott pleaded guilty to possession of an unregistered destructive device, after being found with a detonation cord, igniting devices, timed fuses and other materials that could be used to assemble “a destructive device,” the complaint states.
CNN has reached out to Aaron Dyke, Nott’s public defender, for comment but has not heard back.
It all started last summer, when the police in East Pennsboro Township, Pennsylvania, received a tip about possible human remains located at the home of a man named Jeremy Pauley, according to the complaint. Officers searched his home in Enola, Pennsylvania, and found organs and skin, among other human remains, the FBI said.
During the FBI investigation, Pauley told agents about a network of people buying and selling stolen human body parts. The investigation revealed one of those people was Cedric Lodge, who worked in a Harvard Medical School morgue, where he allegedly stole cadaver body parts to sell online, the FBI said.
Lodge was fired in May and is facing federal charges for stealing, selling and shipping the body parts, according to an indictment filed last month in US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
Through Facebook messages, officials connected Nott to Pauley and the ring of people allegedly engaged in the illegal trade of body parts, according to the criminal complaint.
Nott used a Facebook account with the username “William Burke,” where he posted human remains for sale as recently as June, and even sent Pauley images of skulls for sale last summer, according to the complaint. “William Burke was a serial killer active in Edinburgh between 1827 and 1828 along with his partner, William Hare. Burke and Hare sold their victims’ bodies to Dr. Robert Knox, an influential lecturer in the Anatomy Department at the University of Edinburgh,” the affidavit notes.
“I don’t mind paying up a little for shop stock. Makes things look good. How much total for the couple and the last video you sent plus the spines?” Pauley wrote to Nott in one exchange, according to the complaint.
Pauley was charged last month with violations related to the interstate transport of stolen goods and conspiracy. Pauley will plead guilty to the charges, according to CNN affiliate WGAL. CNN has reached out to Pauley’s attorney for comment, but has not heard back.
Officials say in their search of Nott’s Mount Washington, Kentucky home, they also found multiple weapons, including an AK-47 rifle.
“It’s a shock. You just never know who your neighbor is anymore,” Caroline Branum, a neighbor who lives across the street from Nott, told CNN affiliate WLKY.
Nott is being held without bail, and his arraignment is set for August 4.
CNN’s Jessica Xing and Laura Ly contributed to this report.