Jars of human remains, likely used for scientific research, have vanished from a vacant home in Caledonia, Wisconsin--and the tale behind the missing body parts has the small town buzzing.
The three specimens belong to Dr. Grant Shumaker, a neurosurgeon who moved from the home in 2006 and now lives in South Dakota, according to Caledonia Patch.
Dr. Shumaker years ago thought movers packed the jars with his other items. The Journal Times reported that when Dr. Schumaker never found the jars after moving, he assumed they had been lost in transit or taken by the movers: "He always wondered what happened to them," Caledonia Police Lt. Gary Larson said.
It turns out the jars were left behind in Caledonia and recently found by passersby Makayla Harrell and her boyfriend, Patch reported. The couple notified police of the discovery, but when officers arrived at Dr. Shumaker's old home, the jars mysteriously were missing--once again.
“They (the human remains) looked like they had been there for a very long time. There were bugs all over it. There were spider webs all around it. The fluid in the jar was discolored and it was evaporating,” Harrell told Patch.
“You don’t want to have contact with formaldehyde on your skin for prolonged periods of time, and we would rather that the items be returned so that we can make sure the formaldehyde, and the organs are properly disposed of,” Lt. Larson told FOX6.
The jars reportedly had been a part of Dr. Shumaker's life ever since his years as a student at the Yale School of Medicine. He told police that a prominent doctor sealed the three jars in 1901--making the specimens older than a century. One jar contains half of a human brain, one holds two eyeballs, and another holds an “unidentifiable organ,” according to Patch.
The science-savvy understand that human remains and cadavers are a mainstay of biomedical research and medical education. So the jars themselves "were probably used for display purposes, and it’s not as bizarre as one might think,” Lt. Larson told FOX6. But the specimens' whereabouts remains a mystery.
Watch the FOX6 report below:
Caffeine For Imprisoned Twins
In the late 18th century, King Gustavus III of Sweden was rumored to have carried out a strange experiment to determine the harmful health effects of coffee. Two identical twins who had been condemned to death had their sentences commuted to life in prison on the condition that one would drink three pots of coffee per day, and the other three pots of tea, for the rest of their lives. The only problem was that the doctors assigned to monitor the cases died before either of the patients did, their observations lost--as the story goes, the tea drinker died first, and there's no record of the coffee-drinker's death. The experiment proved nothing, suffering from a lack of rigor (to say the least). Source: Uppsala University, "Coffee - rat poison or miracle medicine?"
Simulated Anthrax On The Subway
In June 1966, the U.S. Army's Special Operations Division secretly dispersed harmless bacteria in the New York Subway system to model the effects of an outbreak of more harmful germs. According to Army reports, "Test results show that a large portion of the working population of New York City would be exposed to disease if one or more pathogenic agents were disseminated covertly in several subway lines at a period of peak traffic." Source: Deadly Cultures: Biological Warfare Since 1945. Wheelis, Rózsa, and Dando. Harvard University Press, 2006.
Weaponized Fleas In The Desert
Operation Big Itch, 1954, was an attempt to discover the potential of weaponized fleas. The operation, part of the Cold War-era United States biological weapons program, took place at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. According to "Using the flea as weapon," an article in the Army Chemical Review, "In the United States, the plague flea concept was competing against the use of mosquitoes, flies, ticks, and lice. Of these concepts, the United States put most of its energies behind weaponizing yellow fever in combination with the Aedes aegypti mosquito."
Food Through A Hole In The Stomach
U.S. Army Surgeon William Beaumont (above) found an extraordinary patient in Alexis St. Martin, a Canadian trapper who was injured in a hunting accident and left with a hole in his belly that led directly into his stomach. Beaumont attached a string to various foods, including oysters and rare roast beef, and introduced them into the wound to observe the rates of digestion. Despite the unorthodox techniques, this research would later lead to the discovery of the importance of stomach acid in digestion, earning Beaumont the epithet "father of gastric physiology." Source: Experiments and observations on the gastric juice, and the physiology of digestion. Beaumont, Martin and Combe. Maclachlan & Stewart, 1838
Candy For Mental Patients
In 1945, Sweden's new National Dental Service commissioned research, now known as the Vipeholm experiments, in which researchers gave subjects large amounts of sticky sugary candy in order to study the development of cavities. This might not have been so controversial, except that the subjects couldn't give consent to their participation: "The use of mentally handicapped subjects was criticized in the Swedish press and all studies on mentally handicapped individuals were stopped in 1954," according to Topics In Dental Biochemistry by Mark Levine (Springer, 2010).