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Federal prosecutors allege that Cedric Lodge, former manager of the morgue at the Anatomical Gift Program at Harvard Medical School, stole and sold human remains from the school for profit.
Lodge was indicted yesterday by a Pennsylvania grand jury on counts of conspiracy and aiding and abetting the interstate transport of stolen goods. The former morgue manager is accused of transporting “heads, brains, skin, bones, and other human remains” that he stole from the Medical School morgue “without the knowledge or permission of HMS” and bringing them to his New Hampshire home.
The remains were then sold by Lodge and his wife Denise Lodge to Katrina MacLean, Joshua Taylor, and others, according to the indictment. MacLean is accused of selling the remains to buyers across the country and through her store — Kat’s Creepy Creations in Peabody, Massachusetts. Taylor allegedly also bought human remains from Lodge to sell. Lodge allowed MacLean, Taylor, and others to enter the morgue and choose what remains they wanted to buy, according to the indictment.
All four individuals are named as defendants in the five-count federal suit filed Tuesday and unsealed Wednesday. Cedric Lodge and David M. Rothstein, Denise Lodge’s attorney, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In a Wednesday email to Medical School affiliates with the subject line “An abhorrent betrayal,” Medical School Dean George Q. Daley ’82 and Dean of Medical Education Edward M. Hundert called Lodge’s actions “morally reprehensible.”
“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,” Daley and Hundert wrote.
“We owe it to ourselves, our community, our profession, and our patients and their loved ones to ensure that HMS is worthy of the donors who have entrusted their bodies to us for the advancement of medical education and research. There is nothing more sacred and worthy of our attention and respect,” the email continues.
Daley and Hundert shared a website with resources for family members of the victims and a toll-free line to contact counselors. They also announced that Harvard has convened an external panel to review policies at the Anatomical Gift Program “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 panel’s report is expected to be ready by the end of the summer and will be released publicly, according to a “Frequently Asked Questions” page on the Medical School website.
On the FAQ page, the school wrote that Lodge was fired on May 6, and it has been cooperating with federal authorities for months. HMS was first notified of the FBI investigation in March 2023.
“The FBI requested we maintain the investigation’s confidentiality until an indictment was issued and arrests made,” the webpage states.
The school said it did not know of Lodge’s activities until the FBI notified them.
Lodge — who was hired in 1995 — was on leave when the Medical School was notified of the federal investigation in March, after which the school “immediately” suspended his email and campus access. Lodge was then terminated in May after “adequate information from the federal investigation was provided” to the Medical School “to justify his termination for cause.”
Gerard M. Karam, the United States Attorney who filed the indictment, said in a Department of Justice statement that “some crimes defy understanding.”
“With these charges, we are seeking to secure some measure of justice for all these victims,” Karam said.
Christopher A. Nielsen, Inspector in Charge of the Philadelphia Division of the Postal Inspection Service, said the Postal Inspection Service “will do everything in its power to stop” the use of United States mail to “facilitate the theft and shipment of human remains.”
“Robbing families of the remains of their loved ones is an unconscionable act and confounds our collective sense of decency,” he said.
“I hope our efforts bring a small amount of relief to the victimized families,” Nielson added.
—Staff writer Rahem D. Hamid can be reached at email@example.com.
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