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Harvard Medical School news: Morgue manager accused of selling stolen body parts charged with human trafficking


Related video: Harvard Morgue Manager Was Selling Body Parts

A Harvard Medical School morgue manager and his wife are among five people who have been charged with stealing and selling human remains.

Cedric Lodge, who was fired on 6 May, allegedly stole “heads, brains, skin and bones” from cadavers that were donated to the school, federal prosecutors in Pennsylvania said on Wednesday.

He and his wife Denise sold the body parts to buyers in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, sending them in the post, according to the indictment. In one case, the buyer allegedly intended to tan skin into leather.

The scheme, which is part of a larger black market, is alleged to ran for five years from 2018 to 2022.

Mr Lodge, who was hired by Harvard in Boston, Massachusetts in 1995, allegedly sometimes allowed potential buyers into the morgue to choose which body parts they wanted.

After the horrifying allegations emerged, family members who donated their loved ones’ bodies to medical research spoke of their horror.

Sarah Hill, who donated her aunt’s body to the school, told Boston 25 News she now feels “sick”. “We as family members gave her body to Harvard thinking that she was in the best hands possible,” she said.

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‘Two dissected faces’ bought for $600

Gustaf Kilander16 June 2023 06:30

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Niece of woman on ‘potentially affected’ list speaks out

Among those to have come forward to express their horror has been Sarah Hill, whose beloved aunt Christine Eppich donated her body to HMS as part of the program following her death from pancreatic cancer in March 2021.

Ms Hill said she had called the 24-hour hotline set up by the HMS to answer relatives’ concerns when the news of Lodge’s arrest broke and said she felt “sick” when she was informed that her aunt’s name was on the institution’s “potentially affected list”.

“Christine wanted other people to benefit from her passing so that she could be studied. So that the doctors of the future or tomorrow could study her body and find not only a cure for pancreatic cancer but for some other, you know, disease,” Ms Hill told Boston 25 News.

“And we as family members gave her body to Harvard thinking that she was in the best hands possible.”

Joe Sommerlad16 June 2023 05:45

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‘We are appalled to learn that something so disturbing could happen on our campus’

In response to the indictment and arrest of Lodge and his alleged accomplices, the deans of Harvard University’s faculty of medicine and of HMS’s department of medical education, George Q Daley and Edward M Hundert, issued a statement on Wednesday labelling the conduct they stand accused of “an abhorrent betrayal”.

“We are appalled to learn that something so disturbing could happen on our campus – a community dedicated to healing and serving others,” they wrote.

“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.

“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.”

Joe Sommerlad16 June 2023 05:00

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Bodies donated by people who prefer the idea of leaving their earthly remains to science

Bodies are routinely donated to HMS under its “Anatomical Gifts Program” by people who prefer the idea of leaving their earthly remains to science rather than be buried in a cemetery plot or cremated – on the strict understanding that they will be used for educational, teaching or research purposes only – before they are finally laid to rest in a respectful manner in accordance with the deceased’s wishes.

Joe Sommerlad16 June 2023 04:30

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Body parts sold in national network of traffickers trading in human remains

According to the federal indictment, Cecil Lodge would spirit the dissected body parts away from the HMS morgue and store them at his home in Goffstown, New Hampshire.

He and his wife would then sell them as part of a national network of traffickers trading in human remains, conducting transactions on Facebook and PayPal and cheerily making use of the US Postal Service, as though they were shipping collectible Beanie Babies.

“Head number 7” read one chillingly matter-of-fact PayPal description for one of these transactions, worth $1,000, according to the charging document.

Joe Sommerlad16 June 2023 04:00

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Owner of shop specialising in ‘creepy dolls, oddities, and bone art’ arrested

Mr Lodge and his wife, 63, were arrested on Wednesday along with Katrina Maclean, 44, of Salem, Massachusetts – who owns a store in nearby Peabody called Kat’s Creepy Creations that specialises in “creepy dolls, oddities” and “bone art” – Joshua Taylor, 46, of West Lawn, Pennsylvania, and Mathew Lampi, 52, of East Bethel, Minnesota

The defendants in the case face a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment on charges of conspiracy and interstate transport of stolen goods.

Two other people, Jeremy Pauley of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, and Candace Chapman Scott of Little Rock, Arkansas, were previously indicted for buying and selling stolen body parts intended for cremation and pleaded not guilty.

Ms Maclean is accused of selling remains stolen by Mr Lodge to other buyers in multiple states, including to Mr Pauley, to whom she allegedly shipped a package of human skin in 2021 having “engaged his services to tan the skin to create leather”, after which he sent it back to her, according to The New York Times.

Joe Sommerlad16 June 2023 03:30

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‘Heads, brains, skin and bones’: Everything we know about the Harvard Medical School body parts seller

“Some crimes defy understanding.”

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

“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.”

Mr Lodge, 55, was hired by the revered Ivy League institution in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1995 but was fired on 6 May this year for allegedly stealing “heads, brains, skin and bones” from cadavers between 2018 and 2022 and selling them on to interested buyers, some of whom were seemingly allowed to tour the morgue to peruse which body parts they might like to acquire.

Read more:

Joe Sommerlad16 June 2023 03:00

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Federal prosecutors say that morgue manager stole organs and other body parts between 2018 and 2022

Federal prosecutors say that Mr Lodge stole organs and other body parts between 2018 and 2022 while serving as the manager of the Anatomical Gifts Program at Harvard Medical School. The remains were set to be used for medical research and education ahead of their planned cremations.

Ms Hill is the next of kin for Ms Eppich. She called the Harvard programme’s 24-hour hotline on Wednesday evening and she was told Ms Eppich was included on the list of those “potentially affected”.

Ms Hill said the person at the other end of the line said that not all bodies donated between 2018 and this year will appear on the list. The medical and dental programmes accepted donations of the bodies of people who had passed away at the ages of 18 and up.

The Department of Justice is trying to identify further victims and contact their families.

Gustaf Kilander16 June 2023 02:30

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‘We as family members gave her body to Harvard thinking that she was in the best hands possible’

The former manager at the medical school’s morgue, Cedric Lodge, 55, his wife Denise Lodge, 63, and Kat’s Creepy Creations owner Katrina Maclean, 44, all face allegations that they sold body parts that were supposed to be used for research by the school. The crimes spanned several states, the allegations claim.

“Christine wanted other people to benefit from her passing so that she could be studied. So that the doctors of the future or tomorrow could study her body and find not only a cure for pancreatic cancer but for some other disease,” Ms Hill told Boston 25 News. “And we as family members gave her body to Harvard thinking that she was in the best hands possible.”

Legal filings state that some of the body parts were sold via Facebook and some transactions were processed through PayPal, with shipments being made by US Postal Service mail.

Gustaf Kilander16 June 2023 02:00

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Niece says she feels ‘sick’ after learning Harvard morgue worker accused of selling human remains

Sarah Hill had an easy decision to make after the passing of her aunt Christine Eppich in March 2021 from pancreatic cancer. Ms Eppich had made clear that she wanted her body donated to Harvard for research and education.

“She was my favourite aunt. She worked with special needs children and adults and everyone loved Christine,” Ms Hill told Boston 25 News.

Ms Hill said Ms Eppich had already made arrangements before her passing to have her remains handed over to the Harvard Anatomical programme. The family is now concerned about what could have happened to Ms Eppich’s remains following the allegations that morgue staff was selling body parts.

“It’s been a frantic 24 hours. I received Christine’s remains back this fall after not having them for two years,” Ms Hill told the local TV station. “You know you give your loved one to a program like Harvard and you think that everything will be done properly. And that people would never profit from something like this.”

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Gustaf Kilander16 June 2023 01:30


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