Skip to main content
  1. Leisure
  2. Travel
  3. International Travel

Man steals brains from Indiana mental hospital museum

See also

An Indianapolis man has been arrested for a macabre crime. According to a January 1st online article from The INDY STAR, police report that 21 year old David Charles has committed several break ins at the building housing the artifacts of the Indiana Medical History Museum. Charles stole brains and other specimens from autopsies performed between the 1890s and the 1940s on mental patients housed at the historic Central States Hospital.

Charles arranged for a middleman to list the brains for sale on Ebay. A buyer form San Diego became suspicious when observing the markings on the brain containers. The buyer then called Indianpolis police. An investigation followed by a sting operation led to the arrest of Charles on charges of theft, marijuana possession and paraphernalia possession.

The INDY STAR report quoted the executive director of the Indiana Medical History Museum, Mary Ellen Hennessey Nottage. "It’s horrid anytime a museum collection is robbed,” she 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.”

The Indiana Hospital for the Insane opened in 1848 and was the site of the primary mental hospital in Indiana for nearly 100 years. The facility was called the Central Indiana Hospital for the Insane starting in 1889, and changed to Central States Hospital in 1926. The Indiana Medical History Museum is housed in the original hospital and medical teaching facility building on the grounds. During the late 1890s research doctors began to perform autopsies on deceased mental patients to study the effects of mental illness on the human brain.

Over the years the patient population and the number and size of the facility buildings grew. In 1950 the patient population was over 2300. The facility was finally closed in 1994 after funding problems as well as allegations of patient abuse. YEars of stories about patient abuse, reports of strange occurrences, haunting and other paranormal activities have made the Central States Hospital grounds a very intriguing site in Indianapolis.

The story of the theft of mental patients brains will add to the lore of this unique site.



  • Cashew dip
    Tasty cashew dip: You wouldn't think something so healthy could be so tasty
    Cashew Dip
  • Istanbul, Turkey
    Istanbul, Turkey has been named the number one travel destination by Trip Advisor
    9 Photos
  • Pasta Salad
    Pasta salad recipe: Easy and healthy pasta salad with delicious pasta dressing
    Pasta Salad
  • Deviled eggs
    This is the only deviled egg recipe you’ll need this Easter
    Delicious Eggs
  • Nail art
    Use this Coachella sunset nail art tutorial with RCM nail polish to create gorgeous nails
    7 Photos
  • Chocolate souffle
    Love chocolate? Get tips on making the perfect chocolate souffle every time
    Recipe 101

User login

Log in
Sign in with your email and password. Or reset your password.
Write for us
Interested in becoming an Examiner and sharing your experience and passion? We're always looking for quality writers. Find out more about and apply today!