Body-snatching gang cut legs off Alistair Cooke 'to sell bones'

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The legs of the BBC journalist Alistair Cooke were chopped off by the body-snatching gang that illegally sold his bones to a tissue-processing plant, his daughter said yesterday.

Susan Cooke Kittredge, a pastor in Vermont, said she remained haunted by what happened to her father's body.

She wrote in the The New York Times: "Just last week I discovered the unsettling details that it was my father's legs that were cut off and sold. To know his bones were sold was one thing, but to see him standing truncated before me is another thing ... we remain haunted by the body's gruesome fate."

Cooke, a renowned journalist famous for his Letter from America broadcasts for Radio 4, died of lung cancer in March 2004 in New York at the age of 95.

The gang had stolen the body parts before it was cremated and lied, claiming the donor had died of a heart attack and was 85-years-old. Four men, including an embalmer and a dentist, have been charged with stealing skin, bones, heart valves and other tissue from 1,077 corpses.