Skip to comments.Officials investigate human organs found in storage unit
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 Circuits Medical Examiners 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 Examiners 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 Bobs 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 attorneys 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. Berklands 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.
Im 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 attorneys 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 Examiners 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 Examiners 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 examiners license became null and void in Florida.
When he left the Medical Examiners Office, Berkland became a forensic consultant to the First Judicial Circuits Public Defenders Office, according to the agencys 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 thats being discussed with the unlicensed activity division of the Department of Health.
Berkland was fired from the Jackson County, Mo., medical examiners office in 1996. Dr. Thomas Young, the countys 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.
Poor fella, that’s why I always make sure to pay the rent for my storage locker.
Most people just take home pens and staples from work.........
Well, he didn't exactly dispose of them, now did he?
Are Medical Examiners like this poor fellow affiliated with any political parties, or are they “party-free”?
Hey! A guy’s gotta have a hobby!............
Here in FL, it’s a ‘non-partisan’ office..........
Paging Ducky, please pick up the white courtesy phone.
... because you never know when you might be cooking for a group???
Was there any mention of Chianti or fava beans???
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”!
Maybe he was a prepper.............
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.
He’s such an ass..............
“auction was held at Uncle Bobs 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
I wonder what he paid.............
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!”
Is there something wrong...with my organ lust?"
Have you seen the price of meat lately?
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?