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Tewksbury man sues Harvard over stolen human remains

The site of Harvard Medical School's Anatomical Gift Program.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

The son of a woman who donated her remains to Harvard Medical School filed a class-action lawsuit against the university Friday alleging that they may have been among body parts that were allegedly stolen and sold by a former morgue manager.

The suit filed in Suffolk Superior Court by John Bozek of Tewksbury seeks to represent an estimated 350 to 400 families whose loved ones donated their bodies to the prestigious medical school to contribute to scientific research. The suit alleges negligence, breach of duty, and infliction of emotional stress by the university.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of the arrest Wednesday of the former morgue manager, Cedric Lodge, who faces federal charges that he orchestrated the sale of body parts taken from cadavers at the morgue, and allowed others from outside the university to enter the morgue and select human remains for purchase.

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“Plaintiff brings this class action on behalf of himself and all other similarly situated individuals whose family members donated and entrusted their deceased bodies into Harvard’s custody for medical research and academic study and whose cadavers were then mishandled, dissected, and/or sold by the HMS morgue manager, Defendant Cedric Lodge,” the lawsuit says.

“Harvard and HMS breached its duty of care and was negligent when it failed to take reasonable steps in the hiring, training, supervision, and retention of defendant Cedric Lodge as the HMS morgue manager who was responsible for the safe and proper custody of the subject cadavers.”

A Harvard spokesperson said Friday that the university does not comment on pending litigation.

When someone loses a loved one, “sometimes the only thing they can latch onto, is that their loved ones’ remains are going to be used for an important scientific purpose,” Jeff Catalano, a partner at Keches Law Group, which is representing Bozek, said in a statement to the Associated Press.

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Prior to her death on Feb. 5, 2019, Bozek’s mother, Adele Mazzone, made arrangements to temporarily donate her body to Harvard Medical School “to further the study of science and medicine,” according to the lawsuit.

Her body was delivered to the university shortly after her death, and her “purported ashes” were delivered to her family in April 2021, according to the lawsuit.

“Upon information and belief, the body of Adele Mazzone was one of the many donated cadavers mishandled at the HMS morgue by Defendant Cedric Lodge,” the lawsuit said.

Other families have said they were notified by Harvard that their loved ones may have been impacted.

Lodge, 55, and his wife, Denise, 63, who live in Goffstown, N.H., were charged with conspiracy and interstate transportation of stolen goods in an indictment out of Pennsylvania, where the case is being prosecuted, and appeared in federal court in Concord, N.H., on Wednesday.

Katrina Maclean, 44, of Salem, was indicted along with them on the same charges and appeared in federal court in Boston. She is accused of working with Lodge to obtain body parts from the morgue and shipping and selling them to buyers in multiple states, according to court documents.

Matthew Lampi, 52, of East Bethel, Minn., and Joshua Taylor, 46, of West Lawn, Pa., have also been charged in connection with the alleged conspiracy. Jeremy Pauley, 41, of Bloomsburg, Pa., was charged by criminal information, indicating a plea agreement, and Candace Chapman Scott, of Little Rock, Arkansas, was previously indicted in the Eastern District of Arkansas, authorities said.

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The alleged conspiracy ran from 2018 until at least March of this year, according to court records. Maclean ran a shop out of Peabody called Kat’s Creepy Creations that was searched by federal agents in March.

Authorities said Lodge allowed Maclean and Taylor to enter the morgue and inspect the cadavers. Taylor sometimes transported the remains back to Pennsylvania, and other times Lodge would ship the remains to Taylor and others out of state, officials said.

According to the indictment, Maclean shipped human skin to Pauley in Pennsylvania in the summer of 2021 after she had “engaged his service to tan the skin to create leather.”

Authorities said Pauley also purchased remains from Scott, who allegedly stole them from a mortuary and crematorium in Little Rock where she worked.

In a message posted on the school’s website Friday entitled “An abhorrent betrayal,” deans George Daley and Edward Hundert called the theft of body parts “morally reprehensible.”

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

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.


Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com.