Harvard morgue manager charged with theft, sale of body parts

Cedric Lodge, 55, among five suspects indicted for allegedly stealing and selling body parts donated to Harvard Medical School.

The former morgue manager at Harvard Medical School was among five people indicted by a grand jury over allegations they stole and sold body parts from cadavers donated to the school, federal prosecutors said.

Cedric Lodge, 55, who was fired from his job on May 6, and the other defendants were accused of carrying out a black market body parts scheme from roughly 2018 to 2022, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania said in a statement on Wednesday.

Prosecutors said Lodge, who was hired by Harvard in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1995, would at times let potential buyers into the school’s morgue to examine cadavers and select what parts to buy. The buyers mostly resold the body parts, prosecutors said.

Lodge would also sometimes take 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.

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.

A sixth person was previously charged in Arkansas in the same investigation on suspicion of stealing body parts from a mortuary she worked for, prosecutors said.

It was not immediately clear if Lodge, who was arrested by the FBI on Wednesday, according to ABC News citing the FBI, or the others indicted, who included Lodge’s wife, had legal representation.The FBI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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.

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.

Denise Lodge made her initial court appearance Wednesday in federal court in Concord, New Hampshire, and was released on personal recognisance bail, WMUR-TV reported. She declined to comment as she left the court.

Cedric Lodge was scheduled to make his initial court appearance later Wednesday.

Two other people have previously been charged in the case.

“Some crimes defy understanding,” US Attorney Gerard Karam said in a statement.

“The theft and trafficking of human remains strikes at the very essence of what makes us human,” Karam said.

People whose body parts were sold had volunteered their remains to be used to educate medical professionals, he said, adding that the Harvard Medical School cooperated with the investigation.

George Daley, the dean of the Harvard Faculty of Medicine, said in a statement to the school’s community on Wednesday that “we are appalled to learn that something so disturbing could happen on our campus”.

Daley said Harvard Medical School, which first learned of the allegations in March, was searching its records, particularly logs showing when donor remains were sent to be cremated and when Lodge was on campus, to try to determine which donors’ body parts may have been trafficked.

Harvard’s office of media relations said it could not provide more information, citing the criminal investigation.