A New Hampshire woman is disgusted after learning that her late father’s remains were allegedly stolen and sold from a Harvard Medical School morgue in a black market criminal plot. Now she’s demanding the Ivy League school return the body of her deceased mother.
Paula Peltonovich said her parents, Nick and Joan Pichowicz, both had their bodies donated to science after their deaths. Peltonovich, along with her sister, confirmed with the U.S. attorney’s office that their father’s remains were stolen and sold in the alleged criminal scheme, WMUR reported.
“Who could do something like that? What kind of person? No respect at all for the family,” said Peltonovich. “They need to pay.”
Several people stole and sold human remains, including brains and skin, from Harvard Medical School’s morgue, federal prosecutors say. A grand jury indicted Cedric Lodge, 55, the morgue manager, and his wife in the criminal plot, which lasted from 2018 to earlier this year, according to the complaint.
The complaint alleges that Lodge took some of the remains that were supposed to be cremated to his Goffstown, New Hampshire, home and sold them to people in other states. The morgue manager was fired on May 6.
In an interview with The Boston Globe, Peltonovich said that she contacted the Harvard morgue after learning about the alleged black market plot, and the university informed her that her father “was a victim” of the scheme.
“We were just disgusted,” Peltonovich said. “Sick, like we were going to throw up.”
The New Hampshire woman said she is still unsure if her mother’s remains are at the morgue, saying her family has requested that her body be returned.
“We want her returned, so we can bury her. We don’t even want them to cremate her,” Peltonovich said.
Peltonovich said that her parents, who both worked in law enforcement, chose to donate their bodies to science “years ago” and were always focused on “helping people.”
Nick Pichowicz, born in 1931, served in the Massachusetts National Guard and was a deputy sheriff and part-time police officer. He died in November 2019 at the age of 87. Joan Pichowicz was born in 1936 and served as a police officer in Plaistow, New Hampshire, in the 1970s and ’80s, according to her obituary. She died on March 14, 2023, also at the age of 87.
Mairead Elordi contributed to this report.