San Diego resident Brian Kubasco really used his head to help crack a bizarre case out of Indianapolis involving the alleged theft, sale and purchase of human brain tissue stolen from the Indiana Medical History Museum. NBC 7's Dave Summers reports on why Kubasco was in the market for brains in the first place.
A San Diego man really used his head to help crack a bizarre case out of Indianapolis involving the alleged theft, sale and purchase of human brain tissue stolen from the Indiana Medical History Museum.
According to the Marion County Prosecutor’s office in Indiana, San Diego resident Brian Kubasco called the museum last month to report that he had purchased six jars of brain matter on eBay and, after carefully inspecting them, realized they belonged to the medical museum and were possibly stolen.
An affidavit filed by Marion County Det. Cheryl L. Anderson says the jars of brain matter were allegedly stolen from the museum. Kubasco had purchased the goods for $600, plus a $70 shipping charge.
Not so coincidentally, investigators said the Indiana Medical History Museum had been broken into and burglarized between Sept. 7 and Oct. 16. The executive director of the museum, along with police, walked through the facility and determined that several jars of human brain and other human tissues were missing from the museum warehouse.
On Dec. 11, investigators learned about Kubasco’s phone call and email to the museum regarding his eBay purchase and began piecing together the no-brainer, albeit strange, case.
Kubasco had told the museum he bought the brains from an Indianapolis man named Austin Rector. He had a cell phone number for Rector. Detectives tracked down Rector and interviewed him on Dec. 12.
According to the affidavit, Rector allegedly admitted to selling the brain tissue to Kubasco. He told detectives that he had gotten the jars from another Indiana man, 21-year-old David Charles (pictured below). Rector then called Charles to see if he had any more jars for sale. Charles said he didn’t and said he was concerned about trying to get more.
Rector agreed to contact detectives if heard back from Charles. A short time later, Rector called detectives and told them Charles was planning on going back to the museum on Dec. 14 between 11 p.m. and midnight to steal more jars.
Detectives staked out the museum for several hours overnight, but Charles never showed. The next morning, the museum warehouse was broken into again, and 60 jars of human brain tissue were stolen.
Rector contacted investigators to confirm that he had gotten word that Charles had burglarized the museum once again and taken more brain tissue, the affidavit stated.
Working with detectives, Rector made arrangements to meet Charles at the parking lot of a Dairy Queen on Dec. 16 to supposedly buy 20 jars of the stolen brain tissue. Unbeknownst to Charles, Rector was accompanied by a detective.
Charles pulled up in a car driven by his friend, Joshua Milan, 19. During the supposed meeting of the minds, the detective spotted a red duffle bag inside the car that contained the jars of human brain tissue. Charles asked for $1,400 in exchange for the stolen goods, and the detective said he would have to go to a bank because he didn’t have enough money on him.
After the detective and Rector drove away from the parking lot, officers pulled up and busted Charles and Milan.
As officers attempted to arrest the young men, Milan allegedly reached for a handgun that was in a holster on his waist. He was taken down by officers and later admitted he was reaching for the gun, according to the affidavit.
Both Charles and Milan were arrested and taken to police headquarters for questioning. After searching the red duffle bag in the car, police found 20 jars of the stolen brain tissue, as well as a bag of marijuana and a smoking pipe in the vehicle.
According to the affidavit, Charles allegedly admitted to burglarizing the Indianapolis Medical History Museum on Dec. 15 with another friend. He also allegedly told detectives he had broken into the museum six times in 2013 and each time, he stole jars of brain tissue and sold them to Rector.
Police paid a visit to the home of Charles’ friend. There, they discovered 28 jars of human brain tissue that the friend said he had gotten from Charles. The jars were found on a shelf inside the home.
All 48 jars of human brain matter were recovered by police and later returned to the medical museum.
In the end, Charles was charged with burglary for allegedly being the brains behind the operation. He was also charged with possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.
NBC 7 San Diego spoke with Kubasco about the ordeal via email on Friday. He didn’t want to appear on camera.
When asked why he was buying brain tissue in the first place, Kubasco explained that he’s an artist and sculptor who carves out a living creating macabre art.
Kubasco is deeply interested in “steampunk,” a futuristic sub-genre of science-fiction focused on antiquated steam energy. Kubasco uses medical samples sold in the science section of eBay to create his custom art pieces, which can be seen here. The works sell for thousands of dollars.
“I have a vast collection of vintage dental phantoms, which are head forms that students practice dental work on,” said Kubasco.
The sculptor said most of his clients are doctors or psychiatrists. He said planned to sell the brain samples to one of those buyers or perhaps, ironically, even a museum.
However, the San Diego resident said he’s glad he was able to help police crack the case of the stolen brain tissue and return the jars to the museum they actually belong to.
“People these days are desperate and grab anything they can steal. I would have never guessed, though, someone would steal such a thing,” said Kubasco. “I was very happy to get them back to where they belong.”