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Ex-Harvard morgue manager’s wife pleads guilty to stealing body parts

STEVEN PORTER/THE BOSTON GLOBE VIA AP / 2023
                                Denise Lodge, left, covers her face with a printout of the indictment against her as she walks from the federal courthouse in Concord, N.H., following her arrest on charges related to an alleged scheme to steal and sell donated body parts. Lodge, 64, the wife of a former Harvard Medical School morgue manager has pleaded guilty Friday, April 12, to a federal charge after investigators said she shipped stolen human body parts to buyers.
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STEVEN PORTER/THE BOSTON GLOBE VIA AP / 2023

Denise Lodge, left, covers her face with a printout of the indictment against her as she walks from the federal courthouse in Concord, N.H., following her arrest on charges related to an alleged scheme to steal and sell donated body parts. Lodge, 64, the wife of a former Harvard Medical School morgue manager has pleaded guilty Friday, April 12, to a federal charge after investigators said she shipped stolen human body parts to buyers.

WILLIAMSPORT. Pa. >> The wife of a former Harvard Medical School morgue manager has pleaded guilty to a federal charge after investigators said she shipped stolen human body parts — including hands, feet and heads — to buyers.

Denise Lodge, 64, of Goffstown, New Hampshire, pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Pennsylvania to a charge of interstate transportation of stolen goods, according to court records.

Federal prosecutors last year announced charges against Lodge, her husband Cedric and five other people in an alleged scheme in which a nationwide network of people bought and sold human remains stolen from Harvard and a mortuary in Arkansas.

Prosecutors allege that Denise Lodge negotiated online sales of a number of items between 2018 and March 2020 including two dozen hands, two feet, nine spines, portions of skulls, five dissected human faces and two dissected heads, PennLive.com reported.

Authorities said dissected portions of cadavers donated to the school were taken between 2018 and early 2023 without the school’s knowledge or permission. A Pennsylvania man, Jeremy Pauley of Thompson, is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty last year to conspiracy and interstate transportation of stolen property.

Denise Lodge’s attorney, Hope Lefeber, told WBUR in an interview in February that her client’s husband “was doing this and she just kind of went along with it.” She said “what happened here is wrong” but no one lost money and the matter was “more of a moral and ethical dilemma … than a criminal case.”

Bodies donated to Harvard Medical School are used for education, teaching or research purposes. Once they are no longer needed, the cadavers are usually cremated and the ashes are returned to the donor’s family or buried in a cemetery.

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