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article imageMan is accused of stealing dead mental patients' brains online

By Angela Atkinson     Jan 2, 2014 in Crime
Indianapolis - It was a typical story: a young guy finds himself desperate for cash. Apparently unable to obtain employment, he devises a scheme in which he sells stolen goods online.
But this story wasn’t so typical. In fact, it sounds more like the inspiration for a horror movie, but the gory details are shockingly true.
It started with a poorly-written Facebook post that was probably taken by many people as just a bad joke.
“Yo I got a bunch of human brains in jars for sale hmu for details u know u want one for Halloween,” an Oct. 14 post on 21-year-old David Charles' timeline announced.
As it turns out, Charles was allegedly stealing artifacts from the Indiana Medical History Museum. Police say he is accused of breaking into the museum several times over the course of 2013 and stealing jars of human brain tissue and other preserved tissue.
Once he'd gathered his stolen stock, Charles took to eBay to unload it on unsuspecting collectors, according to investigators.
Screenshot of a Facebook post from David Charles  public timeline
Screenshot of a Facebook post from David Charles' public timeline
Police were alerted thanks to the suspicions of one of his customers, who had bought six jars full of brains through eBay for $600 plus $70 shipping, He called the museum when he found the museum's labels on the jars and suspected something was awry.
“This consumer did his due diligence and saw they were possibly stolen and contacted us,” officer Chris Wilburn told Fox 59. “I mean, he was trying to sell 6 jars of human brain matter… it’s very bizarre.”
When they received the tip from the museum, police traced the transactions and located the eBay seller who provided the San Diego man’s jars of brain tissue. The seller told police he’d received the jars from Charles.
The Dairy Queen sting
In a twist that could be the last scene in an episode of Law & Order, the seller worked with police to capture the thief in a pre-arranged meeting in a Dairy Queen parking lot. Authorities say this was the day after Charles stole 60 jars of human tissue from the museum.
Charles showed up and made the transaction, and police immediately arrested him when it was complete. According to the court documents, one of the people with Charles reached for a handgun before being tackled by officers.
Charges against Charles include theft and marijuana and paraphernalia possession charges. Police say there may also be other charges as the investigations unfold. Whether others would be charged was unclear at the time of reporting.
A spokesperson from the museum said that the organ tissues came from about 2,000 patients who had been autopsied between the 1890s and 1940s.
"It's horrid anytime a museum collection is robbed," the spokesperson 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."
As for the eBayer who purchased the brains, he reportedly just likes to “collect odd things.”
While police believe Charles may be connected to other similar illegal auctions on eBay, he’s not the first to think of the idea.
In fact, back in 1999, a Florida man offered up a “fully functioning kidney” for sale on the popular auction site—and yes, it was his own. And, while the man later said the auction was a joke, the bidding reached nearly $6 million before being removed from the site.
Ten years later, the remains of infamous Italian dictator Benito Mussolini were offered up for sale on eBay, much to his granddaughter’s dismay. The remains were reportedly contained in three glass vials and might have been stolen from a hospital where the dictator’s body had been autopsied after the Second World War.
"This is very serious, these are the kinds of things we have to guard against," his granddaughter told the Telegraph at that time.
More about Weird crime, stolen brains, Ebay, Facebook, Indianapolis
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