New York – The morgue manager at America’s prestigious Harvard Medical School allegedly took dead body parts from his workplace without permission and then sold them, US prosecutors said on Wednesday.
Cedric Lodge, 55, has been charged with trafficking in stolen human remains, the US attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania said in a statement.
“Some crimes defy understanding,” said the attorney, Gerard Karam.
“It is particularly egregious that so many of the victims here volunteered to allow their remains to be used to educate medical professionals and advance the interests of science and healing,” he added.
Lodge has been charged alongside his wife, 63-year-old Denise Lodge, and five other alleged co-conspirators with involvement in a “nationwide network” of bought and sold human remains.
Prosecutors say that from 2018 to 2022 Cedric Lodge “stole organs and other parts of cadavers donated for medical research and education before their scheduled cremations.”
He is accused of taking the remains from the Harvard site in Boston to his home in Goffstown, New Hampshire, where he and his wife sold the remains to two of the other accused – Katrina Maclean and Joshua Taylor.
At times, Lodge “allowed Maclean and Taylor to enter the morgue… and examine cadavers to choose what to purchase,” the attorney’s office said.
Prosecutors say Maclean, 44, of Salem, Massachusetts, and Taylor, 46, of West Lawn, Pennsylvania then resold the remains for profit.
The indictment alleges that Maclean shipped human skin to Taylor to have him “tan the skin to create leather,” the Boston Globe reported.
Lodge managed the morgue for Harvard’s anatomical gifts program. He was fired from his post on May 6, the school said in a statement.
“We are appalled to learn that something so disturbing could happen on our campus,” George Daley, the dean of Harvard University’s medicine faculty, and Edward Hundert, dean of medical education, said in a joint statement.
Another co-accused allegedly stole remains from a morgue in Arkansas where she worked, including the corpses of two stillborn babies who were due to be cremated and returned to their families.
Two other people charged allegedly bought and sold remains from each other, exchanging more than $100 000 (about R1.8 million) in online payments.