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Indiana man accused of stealing brains from a museum and selling them on eBay

By Travis Gettys
Thursday, January 2, 2014 8:29 EDT
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A very old section of a human brain preserved in formaldehyde in a sealed glass container. The vintage piece was recently discovered in an abandoned mental hospital. Shutterstock
 
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Police set up a sting to bust an Indianapolis man accused of stealing brains from a museum and selling them on eBay.

Investigators said 21-year-old David Charles broke into the Indiana Medical History Museum several times last year and stole jars of preserved brain tissue and other items that he sold online.

The museum is at the site of the former Central State Hospital, which treated psychiatric patients from 1848 to 1994.

Police said one of his buyers, who paid $600 plus $70 shipping for six jars of human brain tissue, became suspicious when he saw the labels on the containers and tipped off authorities.

Detectives then traced the transactions and spoke to the seller, who claimed to have gotten the brain matter from Charles.

Police set up a meeting Dec. 16 at a Dairy Queen parking lot between the eBay seller and Charles, who officers said had stolen 60 jars of human tissue from the museum.

After the transaction was made, authorities moved to arrest Charles, who officers say reached for a handgun and was tackled by police.

Authorities charged Charles with theft, marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia possession, and prosecutors said he could face additional charges.

It’s not clear whether anyone else will be charged in the case.

Police said Charles apparently had used social media in an attempt to sell the human tissue.

“Yo I got a bunch of human brains in jars for sale hmu for details u know u want one for Halloween,” an Oct. 14 post on a Facebook account for David Charles advertised.

The organ tissue came from about 2,000 patients whose remains were autopsied from the 1890s to the 1940s.

The museum’s executive director said she spoke to the San Diego man who notified police after buying the brain tissue, which has been returned.

“He just said he liked to collect odd things,” said Mary Ellen Hennessey Nottage, executive director of the Indiana Medical History Museum.

[Image: A very old section of a human brain preserved in formaldehyde in a sealed glass container. The vintage piece was recently discovered in an abandoned mental hospital. via Shutterstock]

 
 
 
 
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