FBI Bewildered by Thousands of Artifacts, Native American Bones Found in Indiana Home

Agents say there's no one expert who can identify every object.

indiana art
The FBI uncovered thousands of artifacts in an Indiana home. (Getty Images)

Among the thousands of artifacts and relics the FBI has recovered from an Indiana home include a Ming Dynasty vase, an Italian mosaic and the bones of hundreds of Native Americans.

But, oddly enough, only about 15% of the items have been claimed by their owners, FBI Special Agent Tim Carpenter said in a statement, according to CNN.

The artifacts, which are part of the “largest single recovery of cultural property in FBI history,” were found in 2014, the FBI said, after a tip led the FBI’s art crime team to a Waldron, Indiana farmhouse. The agency has been slowly and quietly returning what they can to the owners since then.

The farm’s owner, Don Miller, was a retired “scientist who helped build the first atomic bomb,” according to the FBI. He had traveled extensively for decades, collecting the more than 42,000 items in his home.

“Don (Miller) would collect pretty much anything,” FBI’s Special Agent Tim Carpenter said in a statement. “He collected from just about every corner of the globe. But his passion, I think, was Native American cultural goods.”

Some of the goods, according to the FBI, were obtained illegally.

Before his death in 2015, Miller agreed to voluntary give the artifacts he acquired in violation of “state and federal law and international treaties” to the FBI, officials said.

“He cooperated with us throughout the course of the investigation,” Carpenter said, “and it was his wish that we take these objects and return them to their rightful owners, and for the Native American ancestors to be reburied appropriately.”

 Determining where everything should be returned is a dilemma “There is no single expert that can tell us everything we need to know about all of this material,” Carpenter said.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.