(NaturalNews) An Indianapolis man has been arrested for allegedly breaking into a museum storage facility and stealing jars of human brain tissue collected from mental patients to later be sold on eBay.
According to police, David Charles, age 21, repeatedly broke into the Indiana Medical History Museum, which inhabits the site of the former Central State Hospital for the Insane. Between 1848 and 1994, patients with mental disorders were treated at the hospital, and the museum has retained many of the tissues collected during the autopsies of roughly 2,000 such patients.
Police knew that someone had been breaking into the museum's storage facility since September 2013, stealing not only 1,000 separate tissue samples but also copper. The value of the stolen glass jars alone amounted to $4,800, not even counting any monetary, historic or scientific value of the tissue samples.
Suspicious eBay buyer tips off police
Yet, police had no leads to the identity of the perpetrators until San Diego-area resident Brian Kubasco, 37, noticed that the jars of human brain tissue that he had purchased on eBay contained labels with patients' names on them. Suspicious and concerned, Kubasco began an online search that eventually brought him to the museum's website.
"There were pictures of the same jars online," Kubasco said.
Kubasco then called the museum director to check if the items he had purchased had been stolen.
Museum director Mary Ellen Hennessey Nottage was persuaded that Kubasco had done nothing wrong.
"He just said he liked to collect odd things," she said.
Kubasco, who collects antique medical and dental devices and other medical oddities, had paid $600 plus $70 for shipping for the six jars of human brain tissue.
"This consumer did his due diligence and saw they were possibly stolen and contacted us," said Chris Wilburn of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. "I mean, he was trying to sell six jars of human brain matter... it's very bizarre."
Based on the information provided by Kubasco, police were able to track down the person who had sold the stolen material on eBay. That man agreed to help police set up a bust. The eBay seller contacted Charles, telling him that he wanted to buy more tissue to sell on eBay. The men agreed to meet in a Dairy Queen parking lot.
The arrest was made on December 16. According to police, Charles had stolen another 60 jars of human tissue the day before. After Charles and the middleman completed their transaction in the parking lot, police swooped in and arrested Charles. Police say that one of Charles' companions reached for a gun and had to be tackled, but whether anyone else is facing criminal charges remains unclear.
Charles was charged with theft and drug-related offenses.
Brains were advertised on Facebook
Following Charles' arrest, further investigation turned up evidence that he had also been trying to sell the stolen tissues using social media.
"Yo I got a bunch of human brains in jars for sale hmu for details u know u want one for Halloween," he posted on his Facebook account on October 14.
The museum's director, Mary Ellen Hennessey Nottage, said that she was deeply upset by the thefts.
"It's horrid anytime a museum collection is robbed," Nottage said. "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."