Indianapolis man accused of stealing brains from museum, selling them

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—A 21-year-old Indianapolis man is accused of breaking into a local museum several times and stealing jars of human brain tissue, according to Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department reports.

Authorities were called to the Indiana Medical History Museum at 3045 W. Vermont Street to investigate the break-ins beginning in early September 2013. According to one report taken in mid-October, a museum worker said possibly 1,000 pieces were stolen from the museum. The worker also reported copper was stripped from the building.

According to a police report, the total value of glass jars containing the human tissue was valued at approximately $4,800. The suspect, David Charles, an Indianapolis resident, was allegedly selling the stolen goods online.

The suspect may have even used social media to sell the alleged stolen goods. A Facebook profile with the name David Charles had a status update posted on Oct. 14, stating “Yo I got a bunch of human brains in jars for sale hmu for details u know u want one for Halloween.”

“I was beyond infuriated that somebody would disrespect human remains like that, that somebody would steal from a museum,” said IMHM executive director Mary Ellen Hennessey Nottage.

brains FB post

After receiving a tip from a California man who reportedly purchased the stolen goods, police launched a sting at a south side Dairy Queen on Dec. 16. According to the police report, some of the stolen property was recovered.

“This consumer did his due diligence and saw they were possibly stolen and contacted us,” said IMPD officer Chris Wilburn. “I mean, he was trying to sell 6 jars of human brain matter… it’s very bizarre.”

Charles was arrested on preliminary charges of theft, possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia.

Charles is now out on bond. He had no comment for FOX59 when we went to his home Thursday afternoon.

“It’s one of those things that you shake your head at,” said Wilburn.  “It’s the kind of thing you really can’t make up.”

Museum officials said they were thankful for the man who bought the items and alerted police.

“He was so very helpful,” Hennessey said. “Without him, we would have never been able to retrieve the specimens.”

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