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Man stole human brains from medical museum, sold it on eBay

A 23-year-old Indiana man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to breaking into a medical museum and stealing preserved human brains and other tissue that he then sold online, authorities said.

world Updated: Nov 26, 2015 19:43 IST
David Charles
David Charles

A 23-year-old Indiana man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to breaking into a medical museum and stealing preserved human brains and other tissue that he then sold online, authorities said.

David Charles, of Indianapolis, pleaded guilty to six charges including receiving stolen property, and burglary in a Marion County court where Magistrate Amy Barbar sentenced him to one year of home detention and two years of probation, county prosecutor spokesman Anthony Deer said.

Charles on multiple occasions broke into the Indiana Medical History Museum to steal jars of brains and other human tissue, according to Marion County prosecutor’s office.

The museum is a former hospital for the insane founded in 1848 and later converted into a museum with an autopsy room and anatomical museum that displays preserved specimens, mostly brains, organised by pathology.

Charles was arrested in December 2013 after a San Diego man who bought six jars of brain material for $600 on eBay alerted police, according to court documents. Many of the items Charles sold were recovered when the San Diego man matched the items he bought to those stolen from the museum based on research he did online.

Investigators were able to identify Charles partly because he left behind in the museum a piece of paper with his bloody fingerprint on it, according to court documents. They recovered 80 jars of human tissue.

Charles, who was ordered to stay away for the museum, also stole an EKG machine, about 10 scopes, a baby scale and other miscellaneous historical items from the museum, Deer said. 

Charles must also earn a high school diploma or GED certificate per the agreement, Deer said.