updated 12/29/2003 6:44:47 AM ET 2003-12-29T11:44:47

The children of a cancer patient who donated his body for research filed a lawsuit after learning their father’s embalmed head was kept in a tool shed for nearly 11 years.

The head of Osie K. Whitten, who died Dec. 24, 1990, of colon cancer, was among 150 pounds of human cadaver parts allegedly removed from the medical center at the University of California, Davis, by a former autopsy assistant.

David Lawrence Beale, who worked for Pathology Support Services Inc., which managed the medical center’s morgue and autopsy service, was arrested last summer after the remains were found among his belongings.

He pleaded not guilty to charges of receiving stolen property and possession of methamphetamines. Police say Beale told them he used the remains to hone his dissection skills.

The medical center, Beale and Pathology Support Services were named in the lawsuit filed by Whitten’s children.

The medical center said it could not comment; it previously said it had changed the way human remains are handled. Pathology Support Services said Beale’s activities were not part of his job.

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