SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) — A former manager at the Harvard Medical School morgue, his wife and three other people have been indicted in the theft and sale of human body parts, federal prosecutors in Pennsylvania announced Wednesday.
Cedric Lodge, 55, of Goffstown, New Hampshire, stole dissected portions of cadavers that were donated to the school in the scheme that stretched from 2018 to early 2023, according to court documents. The body parts were taken without the school’s knowledge or permission, authorities said, adding that the school has cooperated with the investigation.
Lodge sometimes took the body parts — which included heads, brains, skin and bones — back to his home where he lived with his wife, Denise, 63, and some remains were sent to buyers through the mail, authorities said. Lodge also allegedly allowed buyers to come to the morgue to pick what remains they wanted to buy.
Bodies donated to Harvard Medical School are used for education, teaching or research purposes. Once they are no longer needed, the cadavers are usually cremated and the ashes are returned to the donor’s family or buried in a cemetery.
In a message posted on the school’s website entitled “An abhorrent betrayal,” deans George Daley and Edward Hundert called the matter “morally reprehensible.” They said Lodge was fired May 6.
“We are appalled to learn that something so disturbing could happen on our campus — a community dedicated to healing and serving others,” the deans wrote. “The reported incidents are a betrayal of HMS and, most importantly, each of the individuals who altruistically chose to will their bodies to HMS through the Anatomical Gift Program to advance medical education and research.”
Paula Peltonovich and her sister, Darlene Lynch, said they were shocked to learn that their father’s remains were among those said to be stolen. They said their parents were both police officers in New Hampshire who wanted to donate their bodies to science.
While the woman fear they may never know what happened to their father’s remains, they have asked the school to return the body of their mother, who died in March. Their father died in 2019.
“Who could do something like that? What kind of person? No respect at all for the family,” Peltonovich told WMUR-TV about the defendants. “They need to pay.”
The indictment charges the Lodges and three others — Katrina Maclean, 44, of Salem, Massachusetts; Joshua Taylor, 46, of West Lawn, Pennsylvania; and Mathew Lampi, 52, of East Bethel, Minnesota — with conspiracy and interstate transport of stolen goods.
Taylor’s lawyer, Christopher Opiel, declined comment Thursday. It was not known if any of the other defendants had a lawyer who could comment on their behalf.
According to prosecutors, the defendants were part of a nationwide network of people who bought and sold remains stolen from the school and an Arkansas mortuary. The Lodges allegedly sold remains to Maclean, Taylor, and others in arrangements made through telephone calls and social media websites.
Taylor sometimes transported stolen remains back to Pennsylvania, authorities said, while other times the Lodges would mail remains to him and others. Maclean and Taylor resold the stolen remains for profit, authorities said.
Maclean owns Kat’s Creepy Creations, a store in Peabody, Massachusetts, where authorities say she sold and stored human remains. Its Instagram page notes the store sells “creations that shock the mind & shake the soul,” along with “creepy dolls, oddities and bone Art.”
The indictment cites a transaction where Maclean allegedly sold human skin to a Pennsylvania man who tanned it to create leather. After MacLean shipped more human skin to the man, she contacted him to confirm the shipment arrived because she “wanted to make sure it got to you and I don’t expect agents at my door,” court papers said.
In another instance, MacLean allegedly agreed to buy “two dissected faces for $600” from Cedric Lodge in October 2020.
The indictment also alleged that over a three-year period, Taylor transferred 39 payments for human remains totaling $37,355.56 to a PayPal account operated by Denise Lodge. One payment for $1,000 included the memo “head number 7,” while another for $200 read “braiiiiiins.”
Denise and Cedric Lodge both made their initial court appearances Wednesday in federal court in Concord, New Hampshire, and were each released on personal recognizance bail. They declined comment as they left the courthouse.
Two other people have been charged in the case.
Jeremy Pauley, age 41, of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, allegedly bought some remains from Candace Chapman Scott, of Little Rock, Arkansas, who allegedly stole them from a mortuary where she worked. Authorities have said Scott stole body parts from cadavers she was supposed to have cremated, noting many of the bodies had been donated to and used for research and educational purposes by a medical school in Arkansas.
Pauley allegedly sold many of the stolen remains to other people, including individuals, including Lampi. Pauley and Lampi bought and sold from each other over an extended period of time and exchanged more than $100,000 in online payments, authorities said.
Scott and Pauley have both pleaded not guilty.