CONCORD, N.H. — The former manager of the morgue at Harvard Medical School was arrested Wednesday on federal charges that he, his wife, and others engaged in a sprawling conspiracy to steal and sell human body parts that had been donated to the school for research and education.
A federal grand jury indictment alleges Cedric Lodge, 55, spent years diverting organs and cadaver parts that had been donated to the medical school’s Anatomical Gift Program and were supposed to be cremated, sometimes taking the remains to his home in Goffstown, N.H., before selling them to people in other states.
The FBI’s Boston office said special agents arrested the Lodges and a codefendant, 44-year-old Katrina Maclean of Salem, Mass., without incident Wednesday. Three other defendants face charges in Pennsylvania, and one was previously indicted in Arkansas, authorities said.
“Some crimes defy understanding,” Gerard M. Karam, US attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, 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,” Karam said. “For them and their families to be taken advantage of in the name of profit is appalling.”
Maclean, who owns Kat’s Creepy Creations in Peabody, Mass., is charged with trafficking in stolen human remains, among other counts,, according to the indictment. The Instagram account for Kat’s says it sells “Creations that shock the mind & shake the soul,” including “Creepy dolls, Oddities, Bone Art.” A post from December 2019 describes a display that included “real human vertebrae.”
In a joint e-mail statement, the dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard University and the dean for Medical Education at Harvard Medical School called the situation a case of “abhorrent” betrayal.
“We are appalled to learn that something so disturbing could happen on our campus — a community dedicated to healing and serving others,” George Q. Daley and Edward M. Hundert 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.”
According to Harvard Medical School, Lodge’s responsibilities included “preparing for and intaking anatomical donors’ bodies, coordinating embalming, overseeing the storage and movement of cadavers to and from teaching labs, and, when studies were complete, preparing remains to be transported to and from the external crematorium and, when appropriate, for burial.” He did not manage other employees, according to the school’s media relations team.
The deans noted that investigators believe Lodge acted without the knowledge or cooperation of anyone else at Harvard or at the medical school. Lodge was terminated from his job at Harvard on May 6, according to the university. Harvard and HMS are working to determine which donors may have been affected, the deans wrote.
Lodge and his wife, Denise Lodge, 63, made separate court appearances on the charges Wednesday in Concord. They were released on personal recognizance and must appear in federal court in Pennsylvania, where the case is being prosecuted.
As she walked silently from the federal courthouse following her court appearance, Denise Lodge covered her face with a printout of the indictment against her. A few hours later, Cedric Lodge dodged a throng of reporters as he was escorted to a vehicle, clutching a plastic bag containing medicines. In court earlier, he answered the judge’s questions in a soft, raspy voice, and his body trembled a bit as he sat throughout the hearing,
Maclean appeared in federal court in Boston on Wednesday. She allegedly shipped human skin to 46-year-old Joshua Taylor of West Lawn, Pa., to have him “tan the skin to create leather,” the indictment says. Maclean then allegedly used human skin in lieu of monetary payment for Taylor’s services. MacLean also purchased two “dissected faces” for $600 from Cedric Lodge in October 2020, the indictment alleges.
Maclean’s Peabody store and her Salem residence had been searched by the FBI in March as part of a federal investigation.
Court records state Maclean was released on personal recognizance with directions to appear in Pennsylvania at a later date to be determined. In an e-mail, her attorney said Maclean “was ordered not to be charged with any new offense, and report [to] pre trial services as directed until her reporting date among other standard conditions.”
The alleged conspiracy ran from about 2018 until at least August 2022, as Cedric Lodge allegedly diverted organs and cadaver parts that had been donated for medical research and education, according to the indictment.
Lodge sometimes took stolen remains home to New Hampshire, where he and his wife sold them to Maclean and others, prosecutors allege. He even allegedly let Maclean and Taylor enter the Harvard Medical School morgue to choose what cadaver parts they wished to buy.
Taylor is accused of taking stolen items home to Pennsylvania, and the Lodges are accused of shipping remains to Taylor and others across state lines.
Jeremy Pauley, 41, of Bloomsburg, Pa., is accused of purchasing remains that had originated at Harvard Medical School and at a mortuary in Little Rock, Ark., where another defendant, Candace Chapman Scott, was employed. Authorities also accuse 52-year-old Mathew Lampi of East Bethel, Minn., in relation to the alleged conspiracy.
The remains that Scott is accused of taking from her employer included the corpses of two stillborn babies who were supposed to be cremated and returned as cremains to their families, authorities said.
Pauley and Lampi allegedly bought and sold from each other and exchanged more than $100,000 in online payments.
The US attorney’s office said its efforts to identify and contact victims’ families are ongoing.
Public defender Behzad Mirhashem, who was appointed to represent Cedric Lodge at Wednesday’s hearing in Concord, declined to comment.
David M. Rothstein, a defense attorney listed as representing Denise Lodge in Concord, did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.