As a child, Dr. Marcus Martin heard stories about grave robbers, or “ogres,” in African-American graveyards.

He didn’t think much of it then, he said, but later, as he became a physician and a professor of medicine at the University of Virginia, he noticed that many cadavers used for dissection were black, and began learning about a long tradition of grave robbing in the state.

“It became real,” he said. “And when black bodies were stolen, there were no riots.”