Ex-Harvard Morgue Manager's Wife Pleads Guilty to Stealing and Transporting Human Remains

According to records reviewed by PEOPLE, Denise Lodge pled guilty to a charge of interstate transportation of stolen goods

<p>Steven Porter/The Boston Globe via Getty</p> Denise Lodge

Steven Porter/The Boston Globe via Getty

Denise Lodge

The wife of a former Harvard Medical School morgue manager has pled guilty to stealing and transporting human remains.

According to records from the U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Pennsylvania reviewed by PEOPLE, Denise Lodge pled guilty to a charge of interstate transportation of stolen goods on Friday, April 12.

Court records show that Lodge pled guilty as part of a plea deal in which prosecutors would move to dismiss a conspiracy charge she faced in relation to the case. Lodge's attorney, Hope Lefeber, tells PEOPLE her client pleaded guilty due to her own health concerns.

"She is very ill and wanted to put this chapter of life behind her and not have the stress of ongoing legal proceedings," Lefeber says. "It's a complicated case, it's really a case of first impression. There's not another case nationwide about whether human remains constitute stolen goods or merchandise."

Her husband, Cedric Lodge, managed the morgue for the Anatomical Gifts Program at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and allegedly "stole organs and other parts of cadavers donated for medical research and education before their scheduled cremations" from 2018 to 2022, according to a previous press release from the district court.

<p>Steven Porter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images</p> Cedric Lodge

Steven Porter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Cedric Lodge

Related: Harvard Medical School Morgue Manager Accused of Stealing and Selling Human Remains: 'Some Crimes Defy Understanding'

The stolen remains included "heads, brains, skin, bones," and was done "without the knowledge or permission of HMS," according to an indictment reviewed by PEOPLE.

He, his wife, along with Katrina Maclean, Joshua Taylor, and Mathew Lampi (individuals to whom the stolen goods were allegedly sold) were indicted on conspiracy and interstate transport of stolen goods charges in June 2023, per a previous press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Jeremy Pauley, who was accused of purchasing and then reselling the stolen remains, pled guilty to conspiracy and interstate transportation of stolen property that September, per a press release.

PEOPLE previously spoke with the family of Nick Pichowicz, a deputy sheriff in Rockingham County, N.H., who died in 2019 and whose remains were among those sold.

<p>Getty Images</p> Harvard Medical School

Getty Images

Harvard Medical School

Related: Their Dad's Body Was Stolen from the Harvard Morgue. Now Kids Want Their Mom Back: 'It's Just Sickening'

"He looked up to this prestigious school, and he and my mom wanted to donate to science to help other people. That was always their wish, so we honored their wish," recalled their daughter, Darlene Lynch.

The situation left their son Nicholas Pichowicz feeling "shocked, sad, and angry," adding, "We feel extremely betrayed by these individuals and the school."

George Q. Daley, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard University, and Edward M. Hundert, dean for Medical Education at Harvard Medical School (HMS), released a joint statement after Cedric's arrest, calling his actions an "abhorrent betrayal."

<p>Getty</p> Stock image of a court gavel


Stock image of a court gavel

"We owe it to ourselves, our community, our profession, and our patients and their loved ones to ensure that HMS is worthy of the donors who have entrusted their bodies to us for the advancement of medical education and research," their statement read. "There is nothing more sacred and worthy of our attention and respect."

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The pair also announced that the university had "appointed an external panel of experts to evaluate our Anatomical Gift Program and morgue policies and practices" in an effort to gain "constructive feedback and recommendations to improve security for the program."

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