The manager of Harvard Medical School’s morgue and three others have been charged with buying and selling stolen human remains.

Cedric Lodge allegedly took “heads, brains, skin and bones” from cadavers donated to Harvard University’s medical school and sold them online.

According to the indictment, he and his wife, Denise, sold body parts to buyers in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

The scheme allegedly ran from 2018 to 2021.

Prosecutors allege Mr Lodge used his position as the manager of the “Anatomical Gifts Program” at Harvard Medical School to dismember cadavers donated for medical research.

Harvard students use donated bodies to study and practice medical procedures. When the school finishes using the cadaver, they are often cremated and the remains returned to their families, or buried in the university’s medical cemetery, according to the indictment.

Mr Lodge and his wife are accused of harvesting, selling and shipping body parts from these donated cadavers instead.

“At times, Cedric Lodge allowed [others] to enter the morgue at Harvard Medical School and examine cadavers to choose what to purchase,” according to a statement from the US Attorney’s Office.

Katrina Maclean of Salem, Massachusetts, and Joshua Taylor, of West Lawn, Pennsylvania allegedly bought body parts.

According to the charging statement, in October 2020, Ms Maclean purchased dissected faces for $600 (£473) that she intended to have tanned into leather.

Ms Maclean is the owner of a store called Kat’s Creepy Creations. Social media accounts for the business show she specialised in up-cycling dolls into gothic, blood-soaked, horror novelties. It is unclear if the cadaver parts were used in her products. The indictment alleges she stored and sold human remains at the store.

Mr Taylor allegedly made 39 electronic payments to Ms Lodge for stolen body parts over the course of four years, totalling more than $37,000 (£29,226). The indictment included a grim reference to a PayPal memo for a purchase of $1,000 (£790) that allegedly read, “head number 7”.

“Some crimes defy understanding,” said United States Attorney Gerard M. Karam in a statement. “The theft and trafficking of human remains strikes at the very essence of what makes us human.”

Both Cedric and Denise Lodge refused to answer reporters’ questions after making an initial appearance at a New Hampshire federal courthouse on Wednesday.

All four defendants have been indicted on conspiracy and interstate transport of stolen goods charges. If convicted, they each face up to 15 years in prison.

BBC/Simeon Ugbodovon

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