IMAGE: FETUS THEFT FROM EXHIBITION
Nick Ut  /  AP
Bera von Hagens, daughter of German anatomist Gunther von Hagens, speaks Tuesday during a news conference announcing the theft of a 13-week-old fetus from "Body Worlds 2: The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies." Surveillance camera footage, seen at right, captured two women removing the fetus from an unlocked display case in the California Sciences Center.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 3/30/2005 11:51:10 AM ET 2005-03-30T16:51:10

Authorities in California are looking for the preserved remains of a 13-week-old human fetus that was stolen by two women from a traveling international exhibition of human bodies and body parts.

Police said Tuesday that the theft of the fetus from the exhibition at the California Science Center was captured on security videotape, which showed the women reaching into a plexiglass case and then removing the 4-inch specimen shortly before 3 a.m. Saturday.

One of the women appeared to place the fetus in a satchel or her pants pocket, police Det. Willem Erkelens told the Los Angeles Times.

Police said they know of no motive for the theft.

The exhibit, “Body Worlds: The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies,” is the work of German scientist Gunther von Hagens, who uses a process in which specimens are dried and body fluids replaced with plastics.

The theft was the first involving the exhibition.

“We are deeply concerned and disappointed by the theft of this invaluable and irreplaceable specimen,” Angelina Whalley, director of the Institute for Plastination, said in a statement. “Although it is a tragedy that the fetus never made it to life, it is a teaching treasure and educational tool which we preserved for the benefit of public knowledge.”

More than 60 million people have viewed the exhibition, which has been on tour in Europe, Asia and the United States for the last nine years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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