A woman who donated her aunt’s body to Harvard Medical School says she felt ‘sick’ after learning the university’s morgue director was accused of selling hundreds of corpses to profit-making purposes.
Sarah Hill said her beloved aunt Christine Eppich always planned to donate her body to the college’s famous Anatomical Gifts program.
Following her death from pancreatic cancer in March 2021, Hill said those close to her believed the remains were in “the best possible hands” – but now realizes she may have suffered a disturbing fate.
On Wednesday, federal prosecutors brought charges against Harvard Medical School mortuary director Cedric Lodge and several others for an alleged scheme in which they sold body parts of cadavers on the black market.
“You know you’re giving your loved one to a program like Harvard and you think everything will be done right and people will never take advantage of something like that,” she said. Boston25.
Christine Eppich (pictured) had planned for years before her death to donate her body to Harvard Medical School for research and education
Eppich’s niece Sarah Hill (pictured) said she felt ‘sick’ on learning her aunt’s remains may have been sold or tampered with in a disturbing human body trafficking ring
Hill spoke of his disgust at the thought of his aunt’s remains being sold on the black market, after Eppich only donated her body with good intentions.
“She was my favorite aunt. She worked with children and adults with special needs and everyone loved Christine,” she added.
As the family recovered Eppich’s remains last fall, their stay in the warehouse has left his loved ones with unanswered questions about what may have happened behind closed doors.
“Christine wanted other people to benefit from her passing so she could be investigated,” Hill continued. “So that the doctors of the future or tomorrow can study his body and find not only a cure for pancreatic cancer, but also for another, you know, disease.
“And we, as family members, donated her body to Harvard believing she was in the best possible hands.”
She said that after learning of the twisted scheme, she called the Harvard program’s 24-hour hotline, who unfortunately told her that Eppich’s name was on the “potentially affected list.”
Prosecutors have brought a litany of charges against the Harvard morgue manager after he allegedly tampered with body parts from the morgue for profit.
He was arrested Wednesday alongside several other people, including his wife Denise Lodge, 63, and Katrina Maclean, 44, who runs the sinister small business Kat’s Creepy Creations in Peabody, Massachusetts.
The group was allegedly involved in a depraved black market scheme that stole body parts including heads, brains, skin and other body parts and sold them.
Hill (right) said Eppich (left) decided to donate his remains to science so ‘other people would benefit from his passing’
Cedric Lodge (pictured) allegedly stole the remains of corpses donated to the prestigious university for scientific research and education.
The twisted human remains trafficking scheme was allegedly aided by Harvard Medical School (pictured)
The morgue director is accused of stealing the remains of corpses donated to the prestigious university for scientific research and teaching.
According to the federal indictment, Lodge took the dissected body parts to his home in Goffstown, New Hampshire, where he and his wife Denise sold them as part of a nationwide network of human remains traffickers.
Some of the remains were even reportedly shipped via the United States Postal Service and paid for on platforms such as PayPal.
Lodge had worked at Harvard since 1995 until the medical school terminated his employment on May 6 of this year.
“At times he used his access to the morgue to allow Katrina MacLean, Joshua Taylor and others to enter the morgue and decide what else to buy,” the indictment adds.
Several buyers were also named in the indictment, including Jeremy Pauley (pictured)
Alleged buyer Katrina MacLean, of Salem, Massachusetts, who owned and operated a business called Kat’s Creepy Creations in Peabody, Massachusetts
Maclean is also accused of selling the remains he obtained to other buyers in several states, including Jeremy Pauley.
Pauley, 40, had previously been arrested and charged with abusing a corpse, receiving stolen property and selling the proceeds of illegal activities
His alleged conspirator Maclean is also accused of selling the remains to other buyers in several states, including Jeremy Pauley of Enola and Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.
Pauley, 40, had previously been arrested and charged with abusing a corpse, receiving stolen property and selling the proceeds of illegal activities last summer.
In October 2020, Maclean sold two dissected faces and skin to Pauley for $600, who was hired to tan the skin and make leather from it before sending it back to Maclean.
The indictment says Pauley transferred $8,800 to MacLean and 25 payments totaling $40,049.04 to Taylor through PayPal.
Pauley also purchased body parts stolen from a crematorium in Little Rock, Arkansas, by Candace Chapman Scott, according to a Department of Justice statement.
“Some crimes defy belief,” U.S. Attorney Gerard M. Karam said in a statement about the indictments.
“The theft and trafficking of human remains strikes at the very essence of what makes us human.
“It is particularly egregious that so many victims here have volunteered to allow their remains to be used to educate medical professionals and advance the interests of science and healing.
“For them and their families to be exploited in the name of profit is appalling. With these charges, we are seeking some measure of justice for all of these victims.