Chicago: A 21-year-old man has been arrested in the US for allegedly stealing brains of dead mental patients from a medical history museum and selling them on an online trading website.
David Charles allegedly stole more than 60 jars of brain and other human tissues in October from a warehouse space at the Indiana Medical History Museum, the Marion County prosecutor`s office said in court papers yesterday.
He is accused of breaking into the museum and taking jars of brains and tissue from autopsies performed on patients in the 1890s, CNN reported.
Court documents said some jars were sold on the auction site by a middleman, despite a company policy against listing "humans, the human body, or any human body parts or products."
A tipster who paid hundreds of dollars on the online auction site helped bring the `organ entrepreneurism` to an end.
Indianapolis police had investigated several break-ins at the museum`s storage facility before a California phone call led police to Charles.
Authorities allege that Charles was scheming to sell some of them, according to court documents.
The alleged scheme began to unravel when the executive director of the museum, Mary Ellen Hennessey Nottage, received the call last month from a man in California who said he had purchased "six jars of brain matter" for USD 600 on the trading site, according to court documents.
The man suspected the jars were stolen when he compared them to others on the museum website. Nottage notified the police.
Charles was arrested on December 16 after authorities organised an undercover sting. He faces charges of theft, marijuana possession and paraphernalia possession, according to court documents.
He is to appear at an Indianapolis court this month in connection with the alleged theft of dozens of jars of preserved human brain tissue valued at about USD 4,800.
Investigators also are looking into the possibility of additional charges, said A J Deer, a spokesman for the Marion County prosecutor`s office.
The museum`s executive director, in an interview with The Indianapolis Star, expressed dismay that anyone would steal the museum`s artefacts.