For years, a network extending beyond state lines is accused of allowing those with an extreme devotion to the macabre to buy, sell and trade human body parts — from brains, to skulls and to male genitalia.

That’s according to U.S. prosecutors, who on Wednesday announced that a total of seven people had been arrested and indicted on federal charges for their suspected participation in the apparently profitable black market for human remains.

The suspects communicated using social media and cell phones, where prosecutors say they conducted transactions of stolen remains that included bones, skulls, skin, dissected faces and heads, as well as internal organs like brains and lungs that they referred to in messages as “wets” or “wet specimens,” court records state. 

In sum, thousands of dollars and numerous types of human body parts — all from Harvard Medical School’s morgue and an Arkansas mortuary — were exchanged beginning sometime in 2018, according to the indictments.

Cedric Lodge, 55, who managed Harvard’s morgue, was arrested along with his 63-year-old wife Denise Lodge and four others after all were indicted this week in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. They are all charged with conspiracy and interstate transport of stolen goods, an offense carrying a 15-year maximum prison sentence if convicted.

Little Rock resident Candace Chapman Scott, who was indicted previously in federal court, was named in all the federal indictments announced this week.

“Some crimes defy understanding,” United States Attorney Gerard M. Karam said in a written statement. “It is particularly egregious that so many of the victims here 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 taken advantage of in the name of profit is appalling.”

Here are the most disturbing allegations contained in the federal indictments.

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Harvard morgue manager hocked his wares from inside morgue itself

Cedric Lodge is accused of using his position at the morgue to allow perspective customers to shop among the cadavers — donated for medical research and education — and select the body parts they wished to purchase.

From the morgue, federal prosecutors say Lodge would make transactions of bones, skin, dissected heads and brains. Lodge, who was fired by Harvard on May 6, transported those stolen body parts to his residence in Goffstown, New Hampshire, where he and his wife Denise Lodge are accused of preparing them for sale, according to the indictment.

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In one case, skin was tanned to create leather

One of the Lodges’ accused patrons is Katrina Maclean, 44, of Salem, Massachusetts, who purchased human remains to store and sell at her shop Kat’s Creepy Creations in Peabody, prosecutors said.

In one instance in 2020, Maclean reportedly agreed to purchase two dissected faces for $600 from Cedric Lodge, and the two conducted the transaction in the middle of the afternoon on Oct. 28 at the morgue, according to the indictment.

Later, in June 2021, Maclean shipped human skin to Jeremy Pauley, 41, of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania to engage his services to tan the skin to create leather, the indictment alleges.

On July 31 that year, Pauley sent a photograph of the leather, and Maclean agreed to provide Pauley with more skin in lieu of monetary payment, according to the indictment. Prosecutors say she then contacted Cedric Lodge to ask about obtaining human skin to send to “the dude I sent the chest piece to tan,” with Lodge agreeing to look for skin at Harvard’s morgue.

Pauley allegedly shipped the tanned skin to Maclean in August that year, and the next month Maclean shipped him the payment of more human skin. A few days later, prosecutors say Maclean checked in with Pauley to confirm he got the shipment because she “wanted to make sure it got to you and I don’t expect agents at my door,” according to the indictment.

Memos in PayPal transaction include colorful “braiiiiiins

Joshua Taylor, 46, of West Lawn, Pennsylvania, is another accused customer of Cedric Lodge’s.

Taylor is accused by prosecutors of making a total of $37,355.56 in PayPal payments to an account controlled by Denise Lodge between Sept. 3, 2018, and July 12, 2021, according to the indictment. Taylor would often include colorful memos with his payments, according to the indictment, including “head number 7” in May 2019, and one that simply read “braiiiiiins” in November 2020.

Maclean and Taylor are both accused in the court documents of then selling their illicitly purchased goods to Pauley.

In October 2021, Pauley transferred $8,800 to Maclean via PayPal for human remains, according to the indictment. And between April 2021 and January 2022, prosecutors said they discovered that Pauley had made 25 PayPal payments to Taylor totaling $40,049.

Mortuary worker in Arkansas asks: “anyone in the market” for a brain?

In 2014, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, which receives donated cadavers for medical research, contracted with a mortuary in Little Rock for cremation services.

It was this mortuary where in October 2021 Scott was working to transport, cremate and embalm human remains when prosecutors allege that she apparently came up with an idea to make some cash.

On Oct. 28, Scott sent a message on Facebook Messenger to Pauley saying “I follow your page and work and LOVE it,” the indictment states. She went on to explain her profession, and asked him a question: “Would you know anyone in the market for a fully in tact (sic,) embalmed brain?”

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As luck would have it, Pauley did, according to prosecutors. He instructed her how to package the body parts, and the two established a line of regular communication for transactions that prosecutors detailed at length in the indictment.

Over the course of several months, Pauley sent more than $10,000 in PayPal payments to Scott, who in turn provided an assortment of appendages, female breasts, skulls and even male genitalia that were pilfered from cadavers sent to the mortuary for cremation, according to the indictment.

Two stillborn children among those whose body parts were stolen and sold

In December 2021, Scott sent a message on Facebook asking if Pauley was interested in purchasing a human fetus, the indictment states. Pauley provided instructions to her for how to package it, and the next day, he made two separate PayPal payments to Scott in the amounts of $350 and $1,100, according to the indictment.

It wasn’t the first time that Scott would be accused of selling the remains of a baby to Pauley.

In February 2022, Scott is accused of stealing the remains of a stillborn boy and agreeing to sell them to Pauley for $300 after taking and sharing photos on Messenger. The baby’s family were then later provided with cremated remains from an “unknown origin” that they believed to be their son, according to the indictment.

But Pauley didn’t keep the infant’s remains for himself. Instead, prosecutors said in the indictment that he traded them and $1,550 later that month to 52-year-old Mathew Lampi of East Bethel, Minnesota in return for five human skulls.

Prosecutors allege that Pauley and Lampi bought and sold human remains from each other over an extended period of time and exchanged over $100,000 in online payments. All told, the indictment states that Pauley shipped 16 packages through the mail to Lampi from his residence in Enola, Pennsylvania and later in Bloomsburg.

Pauley was encountered by police in Pennsylvania last summer

An anonymous tip made to an unspecified police department led authorities in June 2022 to question Pauley, who was reportedly advertising the sale of human remains on Facebook, the indictment reads.

On June 20, Lampi sent a message to Pauley through the WhatsApp messaging service asking: “Hello so what did the police say (?)”

Pauley responded that “in the end the only thing that mattered was nothing was proven grave robbed or stolen out of a morgue,” followed by a smiley face emoji.

Eric Lagatta covers breaking and trending news for USA TODAY. Reach him at and follow him on Twitter @EricLagatta.

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