The mortuary manager at Harvard Medical School and his wife, along with the owner of Kat's Creepy Creations in Peabody and a Pennsylvania man were indicted yesterday on charges they ran a ring that stole and sold parts from bodies donated to the school for use by doctors in training - with at least some skin getting tanned into leather.
Mortuary manager Cedric Lodge and his wife Denise, who live in Goffstown, NH, brought body parts back home with them between 2018 and March 7 of this year, and sold them to Katrina MacLean of Salem and Joshua Taylor of West Lawn, PA, the feds say. Maclean, the feds say, in turn sold the parts to buyers in "multiple states."
The four were charged in Pennsylvania Middle District federal court with conspiracy and aiding and abetting interstate transport of stolen goods. Additional people were charged in separate "informations" filed in federal court today that also included charges that parts were stolen from bodies at a medical school in Arkansas as well as at Harvard.
Stolen human remains sold and shipped in interstate commerce by the co-conspirators included bones, skulls, skin, dissected faces and heads, internal organs (often referred to by various co-conspirators as "wets" or "wet specimens"), including brains, lungs, and others, and whole stillborn corpses.
Among some of the other specific organs offered for sale: At least one penis and attached testicles, although the feds say those came from Arkansas, not the Longwood Medical Area - as did the body of a stillborn baby boy named Lux, diverted to one of the alleged conspirators by a worker at an Arkansas crematory at a price of $300.
Although the indictment goes into some detail on just what the Lodges allegedly stole the parts out of the Harvard mortuary - rather than sending them for cremation at a mortuary in Roslindale as required by Harvard - and some of the ways Taylor then preserved them, it does not specify what most of the buyers did with them.
However, Maclean's business specializes in just the sorts of things you might expect would bring a premium price for actual human parts, such as particularly creepy, blood-stained figurines and dolls. In fact, the indictment charges, she stored and sold actual human parts at her store, for people with a Rocky Horror taste in art.
The indictment alleges that Lodge - acting, of course, without authority of the medical school - sometimes held open houses so that his wife, MacLean and Taylor could pick out just the parts they wanted. In at least one of these sessions, at 1 p.m. on Oct. 28, 2020 - a Wednesday - Maclean showed up at Harvard Medical School with $600 for two dissected faces. The indictment continues:
In or about June and July 2021, KATRINA MACLEAN, in Massachusetts, shipped human skin to Jeremy Pauley [one of the people charged separately today] in Pennsylvania, and engaged his services to tan the skin to create leather. On or about July 31, 2021, Pauley sent a photograph of the leather and Maclean agreed to provide Pauley with human skin in lieu of monetary payment. ...
On May 19, 2019, Taylor sent DENISE LODGE $1,000 with a memo that read, "head number 7." On November 20, 2020, Taylor sent DENISE LODGE $200 with a memo that read "braiiiiiins."
Harvard Medical School deans are, of course, appalled, in a message to the medical-school community titled: "An abhorrent betrayal:"
We have been working with information supplied by federal authorities and examining our own records, particularly the logs showing when donor remains were sent to be cremated and when Lodge was on campus, to try to determine which anatomical donors may have been impacted. Federal authorities continue to investigate, and additional information may emerge.
We are appalled to learn that something so disturbing could happen on our campus — a community dedicated to healing and serving others. 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.
An important and meaningful part of how all first-year medical and dental students learn human anatomy is through the dissection and examination of donor cadavers. As HMS students ourselves in the 1980s and early 1990s, we both learned anatomy in the same dissection laboratory used today. The enormous respect and gratitude we felt toward the donors and the deep reverence we held for the process of dissection remain present with us today. Learning anatomy transforms students from pre-meds to physician-healers; it is an experience that changes your heart and soul, forever. Those values are passed down every fall to our new students who, each year, at the conclusion of their studies, hold a poignant, private memorial service to honor the donors.