Indianapolis man charged with stealing brains from museum and selling them on eBay

Brains came from about 2,000 patients autopsied between the 1890s and the 1940s.
By Evan Bleier   |  Updated Jan. 2, 2014 at 12:35 PM
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An Indianapolis man stands accused of breaking into the Indiana Medical History Museum multiple times, stealing jars of brain tissue taken from deceased mental patients and selling the brains on eBay.

Police were investigating a string of break-ins at the museum, which formerly served as a hospital for patients with psychiatric and mental disorders, when a source who purchased brains online tipped them off about what David Charles was up to.

Authorities set up a sting to bust the 21-year-old, and Charles was arrested in the parking lot of a Dairy Queen. The day before the arrest, he had allegedly stolen 60 jars of human tissue from the museum.

According to court documents, Charles faces charges of theft, marijuana possession and paraphernalia possession.

The brains reportedly came from patients who were autopsied from about the 1890s through the 1940s.

“It’s horrid anytime a museum collection is robbed,” the museum’s executive director, Mary Ellen Hennessey Nottage, told the Indianapolis Star. “A museum’s mission is to hold these materials as cultural and scientific objects in the public interest. To have that disturbed -- to have that broken -- is extraordinarily disturbing to those of us in the museum field.”

Nottage was able to speak to the man who tipped off police after he paid $670 on eBay for brains. “He just said he liked to collect odd things,” she said.

[Indianapolis Star]

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