Did You Hear the One About Missing Brains in Texas
One hundred human brains were thought to have disappeared from the University of Texas at Austin.
The various combination of jokes was endless with the ingredients being: Texas. Republicans. Missing Brains.
No more joking, though; the mystery of the missing brains has been solved — apparently.
University of Texas (Austin) leaders published an announcement saying that the 100 brains which were believed to have been missing were destroyed in 2002 in the routine and regular destruction of organic waste.
"We think workers got rid of about 50 jars, some which contained human brains," the statement said.
The school administration dismissed initial claims that the brains had shown up at another college. The officials also claimed there wasn't any indication that one of the brains was connected to Charles Whitman, the UT campus sniper of the 60s.
The organs, representing about 50-percent of the original collection, had been kept in jars in a closet in the Animal Resources Center where human brain studies also took place.
The brains, which have been used to investigate everything from Huntington's disease to Parkinson's disease and depression, were first received from the Austin State Hospital under a "temporary possession" contract.
Harvested by Dr. Coleman de Chenar, a pathologist at ASH, the brains were removed from hospital patients beginning in the 1950s and lasting until the 70s.
A local photographer, Adam Voorhes, became intrigued with the neglected lot and started making inquiries. It was then that the administration realized that some of the brains had vanished. Voorhes produced a book, Malformed: Forgotten Brains of the Texas State Mental Hospital was released in 2014.
Enter Charles Whitman
Whitman, 25, murdered 16 people including his wife and mother before being fatally shot in 1966. Whitman had often complained of migraines, irrational thoughts, and violent impulses. He left behind a suicide note and requested that his brain be studied.
De Chenar performed the autopsy on Whitman and discovered a little tumor in his brain and added the organ to the growing collection. Whitman was buried in the family plot in Florida, but his brain stayed behind and ended up in the closet at UT.
A report by the state commission looking into the UT Tower shootings found that the malignant brain tumor could have contributed to Whitman's inability to control his actions and emotions.