NEW YORK (AP) – The daughter of renowned British journalist Alistair Cooke says she’s haunted by the gruesome news that her father’s body was illegally sold by a funeral home to a tissue-processing plant.

Susan Cooke Kittredge, in an op-ed piece published in Sunday’s New York Times, recalled her reaction when a detective from the Brooklyn district attorney’s office telephoned her shortly before Christmas to advise her that her father’s corpse was among the more than 1,000 bodies illegally sold for use in transplants.

“I was literally dumbstruck, too stunned to think or speak,” Kittredge wrote. “I hung up and stared, slack-jawed, into space.”

The investigation has also raised fears that some of the stolen body parts could spread disease to transplant recipients. The scandal is expected to lead to many lawsuits.

Cooke, known for his weekly broadcasts of “Letter from America” for BBC radio and as the host of “Masterpiece Theatre” on U.S. public television, died in 2004 at age 95 of lung cancer that had metastasized to his bones. Investigators told Kittredge that those responsible for selling his tissue had falsified her father’s age as 85 and the cause of death as a heart attack.

The owner of a biomedical supply house in New Jersey, a Brooklyn funeral home owner and two other men were indicted last month on charges of body stealing, unlawful dissection, forgery and other counts. All four have pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors say more arrests are possible.


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