Tags: stolen | brains | sold | ebay

Stolen Brains Sold on eBay Lead Back to Museum Pilferer

Friday, 03 Jan 2014 10:41 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Police have arrested a 21-year-old Indianapolis man after accusing him of a bizarre plot of using eBay to sell stolen brains from the Indiana Medical History Museum.

Authorities accused David Charles of stealing 60 jars of brain matter from the museum, according to court documents and the Indianapolis Star. The newspaper reported that the museum is located at the former Central State Hospital, which catered to patients suffering from psychiatric and mental disorders from 1848 to 1994.

"It's horrid anytime a museum collection is robbed," Mary Ellen Hennessey Nottage, the museum's executive director, 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."

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The crime had remained a mystery until a San Diego man contacted the museum unsolicited to tell them he was suspicious about six jars of human brain tissue he purchased for $600, per the Star. The man told the museum he suspected something wrong after noticing labels on the containers.

The Star said Charles was arrested after the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department in December set up a sting operation in an Indianapolis Dairy Queen parking lot, where he allegedly sold police jars of brains. Charles faces charges of theft, marijuana possession and paraphernalia possession.

A.J. Deer, a spokesman for the Marion County prosecutor's office, told the newspaper Charles could be facing additional charges.

Nottage told the Star that most of the stolen brains have been returned to the museum and she was grateful to the unidentified San Diego man for the tip that led to Charles arrest.

"He just said he liked to collect odd things," Nottage said about the conversation she had with the San Diego man.

CNN reported that selling or trading human organs is illegal and forbidden by eBay rules.

A list of items prohibited by eBay includes Native American grave-related items such as skulls and skeletons intended for medical research, Tibetan prayer skulls, organs, bones, blood, waste products, body fluids and sperm.

"Apparently that's a trend that's building -- the macabre, the oddities," Nottage told CNN. "The television reality show 'Oddities' illustrates that very well. I think it's indicative of people's collecting interests. It's definitely bizarre."

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