Human remains found in Wisconsin garage turn out to be important century-old medical specimens

Like something out of a horror movie, a young couple found jars of human remains last week in a vacant home in Caledonia, Wis. In a strange twist, the jars went missing after the couple contacted the police.

Now, in perhaps an even more bizarre twist, Caledonia police have discovered that the jars are valuable specimens belonging to South Dakota neurosurgeon Grant Schumaker, who once lived in the home. The specimens were sealed in 1901 by one of the pioneers of brain surgery, Schumaker told police.

"I spoke to the doctor this afternoon, and he had obtained the jars when he was in medical school at Yale," said Lt. Gary Larsen yesterday. "They were to be shipped with his household goods, but somehow the movers forgot them. He thought they were lost for good and had always lamented that they went missing."

On June 9, Makayla Harrell and her boyfriend Darin Renaud went to a vacant house owned by Ruud Lighting founder Alan Ruud at 5000 Three Mile Road in Caledonia after a friend had told them she had seen remains there.

They found three jars -- one containing half a human brain, one with two eyeballs that had been sliced open, and one with an unidentifiable organ. They also found what appeared to be a dead dog in the shed, and two vehicles that seemed to have not been in use for a while in the garage.

The couple first saw the jars from the garage window, and went inside to investigate. "They [the human remains] looked like they had been there for a very long time," Harrell told the Caledonia Patch. "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 took photos documenting her and Renaud's freaky find and called her father, a police officer in another municipality. He advised her to call the cops.

But when police investigated, they began to suspect it was merely a case of two young people freaking themselves out.

Larry Wunderle, one of Ruud's neighbors, said he has never lived in the home and that he purchased it many years ago from a doctor. "That was the stuff from his medical school days."

When the police went to Ruud's property to investigate this past Saturday, they found the vehicles and what turned out to actually be a dead possum in the garage, but the jars were gone.

Lt. Larson said police are now searching for the jars, in hopes of finally returning them to Schumaker.

"I'm sure that brain specimen was very special to him," Larson said.

To see up close and detailed photos of the ancient eyeballs and brains, go to the next page...

Photo courtesy of Caledonia Patch.

Sort of gives new meaning to the expression "half a brain."
Sort of gives new meaning to the expression "half a brain."
Photo courtesy of Caledonia Patch.

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