A 19-year-old university student from Northern Virginia was charged with stealing a $250,000, 18th-century French painting from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, authorities said today.
John deButts of McLean, a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, was arrested Wednesday night at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, where he had been admitted as a patient.
DeButts' stepfather, John Spaulding, told a Richmond judge today that deButts was "very out of touch with reality" after he was arrested last week on another burglary charge.
The student had been acting strangely since eating hallucinogenic mushrooms during a hunting trip two weeks ago, according his stepfather.
Aubrey Davis, Richmond prosecutor, said deButts was charged with burglary and grand larceny and released on a $5,000 bond.
The painting -- "Landscape with Washerwomen" by Jean Honore Fragonard -- was recovered last week. It received only slight damage -- two small nicks that museum experts said could be repaired.
Davis said he will not say what led police to deButts until he appears in court.
DeButts was arrested last week on a charge of attempting to break into a Richmond motorcycle shop. A grand jury returned indictments against deButts in the painting case Monday.
The painting was recovered when Richmond lawyer William Linka returned it to police. He told police he got the painting from a former client who said he had received it from an ex-friend.
Police believe the thief may have entered the museum by removing a plywood panel from a construction area.