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David Charles brains: Stolen brains of dead mental patients sold on eBay

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The “David Charles brains” news story this week about 21-year-old David Charles who allegedly stole the brains of dead mental patients and sold them on eBay makes one wonder, is selling human body parts on eBay allowed? According to a Jan. 2, 2014, CNN report, “court documents said some jars were sold on the auction site eBay by a middleman, despite a company policy against listing ‘humans, the human body, or any human body parts or products’."

David Charles’ brains reportedly disappeared in early October from a warehouse space at the Indiana Medical History Museum. The museum is located on the grounds of what was formerly the Central Indiana Hospital for the Insane which, from 1848 to 1994, served patients with psychiatric mental disorders. Today, the location is on the National Register of Historic Places and considered to be a monument to the beginning of psychiatric medical research.

The jars of brains allegedly stolen by 21-year-old David Charles were some of the thousands of jars of brain and other human tissues that were stored after autopsies had been performed on patients.

“A 21-year-old Indianapolis man has been charged with stealing samples of the brains of dead mental patients from a medical museum, authorities said Thursday. The specimens were allegedly later sold online.”

According to court documents, the scheme of the stolen brains came to light when a San Diego man contacted the museum because the labels on the jars indicated that the brains were taken from the museum. The San Diego man, a collector of oddities, had bought “six jars of brain matter” on eBay for $600, plus $70 shipping.

“Police determined that the buyer on eBay had received the brains from a middleman who allegedly got them from Charles. Charles was arrested during a sting after allegedly agreeing to sell jars of brains to an undercover officer at a Dairy Queen, police said.”

David Charles’ brains are estimated to have a value of about $4,800. He is scheduled to appear in an Indianapolis court later this month and is facing charges of theft, marijuana possession, and paraphernalia possession. According to a spokesman for the Marion County prosecutor's office, additional charges against David Charles might be added -- but he did not elaborate as to what those other charges might be.

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