"The bones of the late British broadcaster Alistair Cooke were stolen by a crime ring that snatched body parts to sell for transplant procedures, according to reports in two New York newspapers Thursday.
Citing sources close to an investigation by the Brooklyn district attorney's office, the Daily News said Cooke's bones were snatched before his cremation and sold for more than $7,000 to two tissue processing companies.
It quoted Cooke's daughter, Susan, as saying she had learned of the theft last week and was shocked and saddened by it.
A spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney's office would not comment on the report. A similar story ran in the New York Post.
Cooke, the long time host of the U.S. public television show 'Masterpiece Theater,' and known for his Letter from America broadcasts for the BBC, died in New York in March 2004 from lung cancer. He was 95.
The use of cancerous bone for transplant violates Food and Drug Administration regulations and using body parts from the elderly is also against transplant protocol, the News said.
It said its sources said that paperwork uncovered in the investigation showed that Cooke's cause of death was changed to a heart attack and that his age was reported as 85.
'That people in need of healing should have received his body parts, considering his age and the fact that he was ill when he died, is as appalling to the family as is that his remains were violated,' Cooke's daughter was quoted as saying."