Wife of ex-Harvard morgue manager pleads guilty to transporting stolen human remains


The wife of a former manager at Harvard Medical School’s morgue has admitted guilt to a federal charge. Investigators found that she was involved in shipping stolen human body parts, such as hands, feet, and heads, to buyers.

Denise Lodge, 64, from Goffstown, New Hampshire, pleaded guilty on Friday in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. She admitted to transporting stolen goods across state lines.

Last year, federal prosecutors charged Lodge, her husband Cedric, and five others in connection with a scheme involving the theft and sale of human remains from Harvard and a mortuary in Arkansas.

According to reports, Lodge arranged online sales of various body parts between 2018 and March 2020. These included hands, feet, spines, skulls, dissected faces, and heads.

The stolen body parts were taken from cadavers donated to Harvard Medical School between 2018 and early 2023 without the school’s knowledge or permission.

Jeremy Pauley from Pennsylvania, who pleaded guilty last year to related charges, is awaiting sentencing.

Denise Lodge’s lawyer, Hope Lefeber, explained that her client’s husband was the main actor in the scheme, and she went along with it. Lefeber argued that while the actions were wrong, no one suffered financial losses, and the situation was more about ethical concerns than criminal behavior.

When individuals donate their bodies to Harvard Medical School, they expect them to be used for educational or research purposes. Once they are no longer needed, the bodies are typically cremated, and the ashes are returned to the donor’s family or buried.

The case has raised significant ethical questions about the handling and sale of human remains, highlighting the need for stricter regulations and oversight in this area. The incident also underscores the importance of respecting the wishes and dignity of those who donate their bodies for medical research.


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