Morgue manager accused of stealing, selling and shipping body parts
Jun 15, 2023, 7:00 AM | Updated: 12:32 pm
(CNN) — A former morgue manager at Harvard Medical School is facing federal charges for allegedly stealing, selling and shipping human body parts, according to an indictment.
Cedric Lodge, 55, who worked at the medical school’s morgue in Boston, “stole dissected portions of donated cadavers, including…heads, brains, skin, bones, and other human remains, without the knowledge or permission of (the school) and removed those remains from the morgue in Massachusetts and transported them to his residence in New Hampshire,” the federal indictment, filed Tuesday in US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, said.
Lodge allegedly conspired with his wife, Denise, 63, to sell the human remains to others, including Katrina Maclean, 44, and Joshua Taylor, 46, according to the indictment.
Maclean is the owner of Kat’s Creepy Creations, a store in Peabody, Massachusetts, where she allegedly sold the stolen body parts to others, the court documents state.
The Lodges, Maclean and Taylor are all charged in the indictment with conspiracy and interstate transport of stolen goods.
CNN’s attempts to reach the Lodges and Maclean for comment have been unsuccessful. Taylor’s attorney, Christopher Opiel, told CNN they have no comment on the allegations.
“Some crimes defy understanding,” US attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Gerard M. Karam said in a statement.
“The theft and trafficking of human remains strikes at the very essence of what makes us human. 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. For them and their families to be taken advantage of in the name of profit is appalling. With these charges, we are seeking to secure some measure of justice for all these victims.”
Federal prosecutors said in a news release that three other people also face charges in separate indictments in connection to the case, including a person who was previously indicted in Arkansas.
Cedric Lodge was fired by Harvard Medical School on May 6, according to a letter from the university. University officials called Lodge’s behavior “an abhorrent betrayal.” The other people indicted are not affiliated with Harvard.
Human remains are voluntarily donated to Harvard’s medical school for educational purposes. When the medical school is finished with the remains, they are typically cremated and are either returned to the donor’s family or buried in a cemetery in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, prosecutors said in court documents.
The Lodges are alleged to have stolen, sold and transported the remains – sometimes through the US Postal Service – from 2018 through early March 2023, according to prosecutors.
They are accused of communicating with buyers, including Maclean and Taylor, through cell phone calls and social media, the indictment states.
Cedric Lodge also allegedly allowed Maclean and Taylor into the Harvard Medical School morgue so they could choose what remains to purchase, according to the indictment. Maclean allegedly paid Cedric Lodge $600 for two dissected faces in October 2020, the indictment said.
Maclean is also accused of selling stolen body parts to other buyers in multiple states, including allegedly selling human skin to a Pennsylvania man who tanned it to create leather, the indictment stated.
Taylor has paid over $37,000 through 39 PayPal payments to the Lodges for the body parts, prosecutors said.
On May 19, 2019, Taylor allegedly sent a $1,000 payment to Denise Lodge with the memo, “head number 7.” In November 2020, Taylor allegedly sent $200 with a memo reading, “braiiiiiins.”
Both Maclean and Taylor are accused of accepting nearly $50,000 in PayPal payments in 2021 and 2022 from the same man in Pennsylvania for the stolen human remains, the indictment said.
Harvard calls the crime a ‘betrayal’ to the school and donors
Harvard University officials said Wednesday that they are “appalled to learn that something so disturbing could happen on (their) campus — a community dedicated to healing and serving others.”
“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,” Harvard Medical School deans George Daley and Edward Hundert wrote in a letter to the community.
“We are so very sorry for the pain this news will cause for our anatomical donors’ families and loved ones, and HMS pledges to engage with them during this deeply distressing time.”
The medical school said it is working with federal authorities to examine records to determine which donated bodies were impacted.
The US attorney’s office will continue to work to identify the victims and contact their families, according to the university.
Harvard has also appointed an external panel to evaluate their anatomical donor program and their morgue policies “with the goal of providing constructive feedback and recommendations to improve security for the program and for the generous whole-body donations it receives,” the letter stated.