Details of how Harvard Morgue Manager Cedric Lodge and his wife sold body parts through the mail

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A former morgue manager at Harvard Medical School is among five people charged with stealing and selling body parts from corpses donated for medical research. Cedric Lodge, 55, of Goffstown, New Hampshire, was fired on May 6. According to federal prosecutors in Pennsylvania, he is accused of taking “heads, brains, skin and bones” from cadavers that were donated to the school under its Anatomical Gifts Program. He and his wife Denise, 63, allegedly sold the parts to buyers in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania and sometimes shipped them via postal service. One buyer was planning to tan the skins into leather, prosecutors said.

Students use cadavers to learn and practice medical procedures, and the bodies are often cremated or returned to the family or interred in the university’s cemetery after the cadavers have been used. Donors freely give the body parts, but the law prohibits anyone from taking them for commercial use without permission from the donor or the school. The alleged sale of cadaver parts is part of a national black market that has grown to include the limbs and organs of people who have died from gunshot wounds, drug overdoses, or suicides.

According to federal prosecutors in Pennsylvania, the smuggled body parts kept by the Lodges were sold to customers through the mail. The husband and wife allegedly allowed potential buyers to enter the Harvard morgue to select their desired body parts. They also allegedly allowed Maclean to purchase two dissected faces and a skull from the Harvard morgue and then take them to her studio and store in Peabody, Massachusetts. The alleged scheme ran from 2018 to 2022, and Maclean, Taylor, Jeremy Pauley of West Lawn, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota resident Matthew Lampi was arrested in connection with the case.

Prosecutors allege that the two Massachusetts residents worked with the other four suspects to harvest, sell and ship the remains. They are each charged with conspiracy and interstate transport of stolen goods.

The university said it was “appalled to learn that something of this nature could occur on our campus” and that it is cooperating with the investigation. It will work to identify the families of victims who have been impacted.

The alleged scheme was exposed when neighbors complained of a foul smell coming from the couple’s home and saw bloody boxes in their dumpster, authorities say. Police discovered that the couple had taken human heads, brains, skin, and bones from carcasses to be sold for profit. Prosecutors said they thawed the parts at their home and then sold them to other people across the country. They were all charged on Wednesday. The couple was indicted on conspiracy charges, interstate transportation of stolen goods, and wire fraud. They are awaiting trial in federal court in Scranton, Pennsylvania. A seventh suspect, Candace Chapman Scott of Little Rock, Arkansas, has been indicted on similar charges. She was also indicted on other charges related to smuggling body parts.

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