Native American and other archaeological artifacts and relics were confiscated Wednesday from the home of Donald C. Miller, a mystery man that many are calling a real world "Indiana Jones."
A team of FBI agents, archaeologists and other experts confiscated a collection of immense cultural significance from a home in the rural central Indiana Rush County, CBS News reported. The FBI alleges that objects were obtained in violation of treaties and statutes.
Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones said Wednesday, "We know that some of the items were acquired improperly."
The items "that properly belong to Miller are being safeguarded," he said, but items obtained illegally will be repatriated. "A number of statutes and law may not have been in effect when Miller collected some of the items," he said.
CBS News reports:
"The exact number of artifacts in the collection is unknown at this time but it's believed to be in the thousands," Jones said. "The monetary value of the entire collection and of its individual pieces is yet to be determined however the cultural value of these artifacts is immeasurable."
Jones said that the extensive collection, which Miller amassed over eight decades, includes Native American artifacts and relics as well as items from the United States, China, Haiti, Australia, Russia, New Guinea, Italy, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Greece, Peru and possibly several other countries.
He said he could not comment on the nature of the items but said that Miller had traveled extensively. He said the team was trying to determine the exact time and method of each acquisition.
The collector of the items, 91 year-old Miller, has not been charged with any crimes or placed under arrest. According to reports, Miller was an Army enlistee during World War II and worked on secret operations, including the atomic bomb. Locals have seen Miller's "life-size Chinese terra-cotta figurine on the front porch to the seemingly authentic Egyptian sarcophagus in the basement."
Miller told CBS News that had collected hundreds of artifacts from 200 countries throughout his life and had a veritable museum in his basement. He claimed he rightfully owned all of them and that he was cooperating with the FBI.
A local named Elizabeth Dykes said she'd first met Miller in 2007 as reporter and she "decided to profile him after hearing the stories of his artifacts and his adventures during and after World War II, including his connection to the Manhattan Project.
'I personally, just being a skeptical journalist, I thought it was weird,' said Dykes, now 30 and no longer a reporter. 'How could a little old man that lives in Rush County, Indiana, be a part of this giant top-secret project?'"
Miller told Dykes his story and gave her a tour around his "incredibly ornate" home with "furnishings anchored by a large pipe organ in full working order. Miller proudly displayed his findings throughout the complex. Dotting the shelves were Aztec figurines, a World War II-era Nazi helmet and even a shrunken head. (He glossed over the head's origins, she said,)" Indy Star reports.
"I have never seen a collection like this in my entire life except in some of the largest museums," said Larry Zimmerman, a professor of anthropology and museum studies.