University of Texas loses 100 brains, including 1966 campus shooter Charles Whitman's
Human brain section (Shutterstock)

The University of Texas at Austin has lost about 100 brains stored in jars of formaldehyde, possibly including that of the man who killed and wounded dozens in a campus shooting spree nearly 50 years ago, school officials and media said on Tuesday.

Roughly 200 brains were transferred from the state hospital to the university nearly 30 years ago but the psychology lab only had room for half of them and about 100 were stored in a basement, the Austin American-Statesman newspaper reported.

"It's entirely possible word got around among undergraduates and people started swiping them for living rooms or Halloween pranks," psychology professor Lawrence Cormack told the paper.

One of the missing brains may be that of ex-Marine Charles Whitman, who was shot by police after killing 16 people in a 1966 shooting rampage from the top of a clock tower.

The school, which uses the brains as a teaching tool, agreed to remove identifying data from the specimens when it took them in, the newspaper reported, citing a psychology professor.

The university said in a statement it plans to investigate.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Louise Ireland)