PENSACOLA (CBSMiami/AP) — In what could be described as an episode of “Auction Hunters” turned reality horror show, authorities in Pensacola are investigating after finding human brains, hearts and lungs in a storage unit they say belonged to a former medical examiner.
Someone bought the storage unit at an auction last week and noticed a foul smell as they were sifting through furniture and boxes.
Officials at the medical examiner’s office in Pensacola say the remains of more than 100 people were found crudely stored in Tupperware containers, garbage bags and drink cups. Many of the remains were not identified.
Investigators found formaldehyde, a chemical used to embalm and preserve bodies, leaking from a 32-ounce drink cup with a cracked lid that was holding a heart, said Jeff Martin, director of the District 1 Medical Examiner’s Office in Pensacola. The unit had been rented previously by Dr. Michael Berkland.
“How horrible it is for the families of these deceased to think that someone’s loved one’s organs are basically rotting away in a storage unit somewhere, it’s horrible,” Martin told The Associated Press.
Berkland worked at the medical examiner’s office from 1997 until 2003, when he was fired for not completing autopsy reports. Officials said he was also performing private autopsies in the area, but it’s unclear if any of the organs were from autopsies he conducted while working at the medical examiner’s office. The medical examiner’s office is now cross-referencing names in their database during that time period, Martin said.