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Officials investigate human organs found in storage unit
Northwest Florida Daily News ^ | August 28, 2012 6:37 PM | TOM McLAUGHLIN

Posted on 08/29/2012 12:00:00 PM PDT by Red Badger

Some of the more than 100 human organs Dr. Michael Berkland was believed to have stashed over the years in a storage facility in Pensacola had been meticulously preserved.

Others, like one found in a 32-ounce cup purchased at the Dodge Store in Fort Walton Beach and another stashed in a Glad brand plastic bag, were haphazardly handled.

“The various different ways he stored them was very odd,” said Jeff Martin, the chief investigator for the First Judicial Circuit’s Medical Examiner’s Office.

Berkland, an associate medical examiner who covered Okaloosa and Walton counties from 1997 to 2003, is believed to have collected organ samples from autopsies performed “outside the scope of his medical examiner duties” through 2007, according to a news release from the Medical Examiner’s Office.

The organs and organ tissue — which included entire brains, entire hearts and entire lungs — were discovered Friday after an auction was held at Uncle Bob’s Storage to sell off the contents of the unit. Berkland had stopped paying rent for it.

Martin said “some of the decedents” whose organs were discovered were from the Fort Walton Beach area.

Pensacola police and the state attorney’s office are investigating any criminal aspects of storing human organs in such an unconventional matter.

“We continue to review the Florida Administrative Code and Florida Statutes to determine what laws may apply to this situation,” said Greg Marcille, chief assistant state attorney.

Martin said his agency is trying to document, photograph and catalog each specimen found in the storage unit. Family members of those whose body parts are identified will be contacted and asked how they would like the organ or organ tissues disposed of.

Not all the organs Berkland supposedly collected had been labeled, and some were not properly preserved, Martin said. Those not preserved have turned brittle and crumble when touched, he said.

He said it is not uncommon for a medical examiner to keep “relative samples” from an autopsy “if we have to go back and look” at some aspect of the autopsy findings. Berkland’s storage unit held “a lot of buckets of little relative samples.”

The entire organs found are less easily explained, he said.

“The only time a medical examiner would keep an entire organ would be if it was going to be sent to a specialist,” Martin said. “There were entire intact organs that had never been dissected, never touched.

“I’m not sure what the intent” of holding the intact organs for as long as 10 years would have been,” he added. “I have no idea what the motivation behind keeping it was.”

Marcille said the state attorney’s office has contacted Berkland through his attorney, Eric Stevenson of Pensacola.

“Through his attorney, Dr. Berkland has decided to withhold comment regarding this matter,” Marcille said.

Florida “heavily regulates the disposal of human remains and biomedical waste,” Martin said. The Medical Examiner’s Office undergoes routine inspections by the state Department of Health to ensure that it is abiding by regulations.

Berkland conceivably could face charges for the way he kept organs he collected, and there may be issues of his practicing without a license, Martin said.

He was let go by the Medical Examiner’s Office in 2003 for failing to file autopsy reports in a timely manner.

As part of his separation agreement, Berkland was ordered to complete the more than 100 autopsy reports. When he failed to complete the reports, Martin said his forensic examiner’s license became “null and void” in Florida.

When he left the Medical Examiner’s Office, Berkland became a “forensic consultant to the First Judicial Circuit’s Public Defender’s Office,” according to the agency’s news release.

Berkland still provides expert testimony in some criminal cases and works as a consultant. Martin said it is unclear whether any of his present activity constitutes a violation of law, but added “that’s being discussed with the unlicensed activity division of the Department of Health.”

Berkland was fired from the Jackson County, Mo., medical examiner’s office in 1996. Dr. Thomas Young, the county’s medical examiner at the time, complained about problems with Berkland keeping up with his caseload.

Young later discovered eight brains that had not been dissected, or “sectioned,” preserved in containers in Berkland's office. When he checked them against Berkland's autopsy reports, he learned the brains had been sectioned.

Young notified Missouri's State Board of Registration for the Healing Arts and local prosecutors and the state of Missouri barred Berkland from conducting autopsies or serving as a medical examiner.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Government; US: Florida
KEYWORDS: bodyparts; brain; hearts; lungs
I don't think I'll be buying Big Gulps at Dodges anymore........
1 posted on 08/29/2012 12:00:09 PM PDT by Red Badger
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To: Red Badger

Poor fella, that’s why I always make sure to pay the rent for my storage locker.


2 posted on 08/29/2012 12:05:11 PM PDT by RaisingCain
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To: RaisingCain

Most people just take home pens and staples from work.........


3 posted on 08/29/2012 12:06:47 PM PDT by Red Badger (Anyone who thinks wisdom comes with age is either too young or too stupid to know the difference....)
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To: Red Badger
"Florida “heavily regulates the disposal of human remains and biomedical waste,” Martin said."

Well, he didn't exactly dispose of them, now did he?

4 posted on 08/29/2012 12:08:49 PM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Red Badger

Are Medical Examiners like this poor fellow affiliated with any political parties, or are they “party-free”?


5 posted on 08/29/2012 12:09:40 PM PDT by Ken522
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To: Joe 6-pack

Hey! A guy’s gotta have a hobby!............


6 posted on 08/29/2012 12:16:02 PM PDT by Red Badger (Anyone who thinks wisdom comes with age is either too young or too stupid to know the difference....)
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To: Ken522

Here in FL, it’s a ‘non-partisan’ office..........


7 posted on 08/29/2012 12:16:47 PM PDT by Red Badger (Anyone who thinks wisdom comes with age is either too young or too stupid to know the difference....)
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To: Red Badger

Paging Ducky, please pick up the white courtesy phone.


8 posted on 08/29/2012 12:18:27 PM PDT by duckman (Dr Ben Carlson: Vision Not Division.)
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To: Red Badger
"Don't worry, I have plenty of spare parts stashed away."


9 posted on 08/29/2012 12:35:32 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 ( Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: Red Badger
The entire organs found are less easily explained, he said.

... because you never know when you might be cooking for a group???

Was there any mention of Chianti or fava beans???

10 posted on 08/29/2012 12:36:02 PM PDT by gov_bean_ counter (ObamaCare is an assault on the unborn, infirmed and elderly. GOP, repeat this as necessary...)
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To: Red Badger

Well now, I wonder if we’ll see this on a future episode of A & E’s “Storage Wars”? NO doubt Dave Hester will be shouting “Yuup”!


11 posted on 08/29/2012 12:36:48 PM PDT by miele man
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To: gov_bean_ counter

Maybe he was a prepper.............


12 posted on 08/29/2012 12:39:29 PM PDT by Red Badger (Anyone who thinks wisdom comes with age is either too young or too stupid to know the difference....)
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To: Red Badger
Hey! A guy’s gotta have a hobby!............

Maybe he was taking home a corpse one piece at a time, sort of like the jokes about soldiers mailing a Jeep home bit by bit.

If they'd just given the guy more time, there would've been an entertaining cane-and-top hat dance number.

13 posted on 08/29/2012 12:39:48 PM PDT by Charles Martel (Endeavor to persevere...)
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To: miele man

He’s such an ass..............


14 posted on 08/29/2012 12:40:26 PM PDT by Red Badger (Anyone who thinks wisdom comes with age is either too young or too stupid to know the difference....)
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To: duckman

“auction was held at Uncle Bob’s Storage to sell off the contents of the unit. Berkland had stopped paying rent for it.”
wonder who bought it and boy I bet he was suprised...lol


15 posted on 08/29/2012 12:40:26 PM PDT by Youngman542012
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To: Youngman542012

I wonder what he paid.............


16 posted on 08/29/2012 12:41:54 PM PDT by Red Badger (Anyone who thinks wisdom comes with age is either too young or too stupid to know the difference....)
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To: Red Badger

A doctor was performing an autopsy on a cadaver that had an extremely large male member. It was so large that the Doc decided to cut if off and take it home to show his wife to see her reaction.

He put it on the kitchen table and asked his wife to come in and take a look.

She immediately blurted out: “Oh my God - Wilhelm is dead!”


17 posted on 08/29/2012 12:45:22 PM PDT by freedomlover
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To: Red Badger

Is there something wrong...with my organ lust?"

18 posted on 08/29/2012 12:52:45 PM PDT by Oratam
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To: Charles Martel

free lunch.
Have you seen the price of meat lately?


19 posted on 08/29/2012 1:15:52 PM PDT by 1_Rain_Drop
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To: Red Badger

Wasn’t it Hall and Oates that recorded “Every time you go away, you take a piece of me with you.”? Very sentimental and nostalgic aspect to all this, maybe?


20 posted on 08/29/2012 3:29:43 PM PDT by Richard Axtell (Take that... Statist Slime!)
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To: Red Badger

Much of the time when I read of something crazy happening, it takes place in Florida.


21 posted on 08/29/2012 3:32:37 PM PDT by Jane Austen (Boycott the Philadelphia Eagles!)
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