News of charges against a former Harvard staff member is quickly gaining both steam and surprise online after he was accused of stealing, selling, and shipping body parts from the Ivy League medical school’s morgue.
A federal indictment out of Pennsylvania alleges that 55-year-old Cedric Lodge, the former Harvard Medical School morgue manager, conspired with his wife, 63-year-old Denise Lodge, to steal and sell numerous body parts over a five-year period.
The indictment states that from 2018 to March 2023, Lodge “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.”
Lodge is accused of selling those parts to 44-year-old Katrina Maclean, 46-year-old Joshua Taylor, and others inside and outside Massachusetts state lines. Lodge, his wife, as well as Maclean and Taylor were all charged with conspiracy and transporting stolen goods across state lines.
In a news release, federal prosecutors revealed that this trafficking scheme supported a nationwide network of individuals who bought and sold human remains from Harvard Medical School and an Arkansas mortuary. The remains that Lodge stole came from donations to the school for medical research and education. After they’re used for those purposes, they are supposed to be cremated or returned to the donor’s family to be buried.
However, on some occasions, Lodge stole and transported those remains from Boston and transported them to his home in New Hampshire, according to the indictment. That’s where he and his wife made arrangements through cellphone correspondence and social media to sell off the remains to Maclean, Taylor, and others. On some occasions, they shipped those remains to Taylor and others out of the state, prosecutors allege.
Maclean also allegedly sold those remains out of her store called Kat’s Creepy Creations based in Peabody, Massachusetts, which sells horror- and macabre-themed oddities. Taylor is also accused of selling those remains for a profit.
In one instance involving an Arkansas mortuary employee who was part of this trafficking network, she allegedly stole the corpses of two stillborn babies who were supposed to be cremated and returned to their families. Maclean allegedly sold human skin to a Pennsylvania man who tanned it to create leather, the indictment states. She and Taylor are accused of accepting nearly $50,000 through PayPal in 2021 and 2022 from the same man for remains, the indictment said.
After news of this story broke, many online were left astounded and disgusted.
“What? Human skin to make leather? I’m gagged,” said one user on Twitter.
Harvard fired Lodge on May 6. He reportedly worked with the school since 1995. The school released a letter on Lodge’s firing and the stolen remains and apologized to family members impacted by the crimes. School officials are working with federal authorities and investigating their own logs to determine which donors have been impacted. They’ve also set up resources and counseling hotlines.
“We are appalled to learn that something so disturbing could happen on our campus — a community dedicated to healing and serving others,” the school said in a statement. “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.”
US attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Gerard M. Karam said, “Some crimes defy understanding,” in a statement following the indictment’s release. “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.”
The Lodges and Maclean had court hearings this week. They and Taylor could face up to 15 years in prison if they’re found guilty.